The Junk Science of a Supposed Climate Sensitivity Formula

Written by PSI Staff

Climate Sensitivity (CS) is a phrase bandied about by advocates of climate alarm as if our planet is a delicate eco-system worryingly sensitive to human impact. We are told earth not only needs protecting but that CS can be measured accurately using a scientific formula. But below we show why this is yet another Big Green lie.

climate sensitivity

Belief in a supposed ‘greenhouse gas effect’ (GHE) and that carbon dioxide emissions alter climate is critical to those who wish you to believe the notion of Climate Sensitivity (CS). Climate ‘scientists’ tell us their numbers are real and measurable in Nature and that there exists a carbon dioxide/temperature logarithmic relationship (CO2/Temp log). We are then glibly told that “for each doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere our planet’s temperature will increase by [you fill the blank] degrees.”

So, you would think such a ‘formula’ had been derived in a laboratory, with simulated conditions to that of the atmosphere, because such an experiment would be impossible to perform in the real atmosphere.

But here is the first problem for GHE believers. Our atmosphere is an open system and every laboratory a closed system, so how can any such CS formula devised in a lab have any validity? Well, it can’t. It’s that simple.

At Principia Scientific International (PSI) we asked two well-known experts in climate studies, Joseph E Postma, an astrophysicist and Dr Tim Ball, climatologist, to explain in more depth.

Dr. Ball:

“The concept of climate sensitivity was first derived, as with so much done on climate, to overcome a perception problem not a scientific one. Who did the actual calculations of climate sensitivity is not documented to my knowledge. The earliest paper I have is the 1984 paper by James Hansen and Takahashi referenced in this paper (see link):

Here is the most common explanation on it:

Some of the answers to questions of origin are found in web pages designed to promote the man-made global warming narrative or to obfuscate problems. Here is RealClimate’s efforts that give away much information.

Click on “perennial topic” in the first paragraph to get an idea of their and IPCC thinking. Here is an article trying to justify why it is problematic:

Here is RealClimate’s view of this paper:

The need for climate sensitivity began back in the early days of attacks on cattle as the source of methane causing warming. It was triggered by animal rights people and promoted by a campaign and book, ‘Beyond Beef,’ by Jeremy Rifkin, a long time provocateur and promoter of misinformation. 

The bias was disclosed in the failure to mention the 250 million cows in India or the replacement of buffalo with cows in North America among other factors. that don’t produce any foodstuff, but that’s another story.

The problem with blaming methane (CH4), as they are trying to do again, is that it is a “greenhouse gas” but at 0,00017% of the total atmosphere and 0.36%  of the main three, water vapour (H2O) (95%) and carbon dioxide (CO2) (4%) by volume. So methane and later CO2 are minuscule amounts that the public naturally said seem insignificant. That term, by volume was quickly challenged by the claim that methane and CO2 were small by volume but much more important by effectiveness.  This idea later became sensitivity, but there was never agreement on the amount. The dominant usage was that methane (CH4) was twenty times more effective than CO2 which was 6 times more effective than (H2O).

There is a Table of the range of “effectiveness” too, but now labeled “contribution” to illustrate the problem.CO2 formula

A measure of the unscientific nature of the measure of climate sensitivity, now almost exclusively applied to CO2, is the constant decrease in the value. It is approaching zero and will eventually be negative (i.e. CO2 has no measurable effect on temperature).”

Joe Postma:

“They arbitrarily drew a straight line from the temperature at the end of the little ice age, to today’s temperature, and said that the increase in temperature must be from the increase in carbon dioxide during that time.

So, it is just an assumption, which they then treat as fact, and insert into the climate models.  The models are always wrong because the increase in temperature since the little ice age is NOT due to the increase in carbon dioxide from the period.  The little ice age ended for other reason and we went back to more normal temperatures.”

 We hope this helps our readers. If nothing else it will confirm that the issue is political not scientific, which is why it is difficult to track original sources.

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Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    Greg House


    [quote]Joe Postma: “The models are always wrong because the increase in temperature since the little ice age is NOT due to the increase in carbon dioxide from the period. The little ice age ended for other reason and we went back to more normal temperatures.”[/quote]

    I have a little problem with the reference to the “little ice age”.

    This notion is indeed wide spread between both warmists and critics of the AGW, but they always resort to their right to remain silent when asked how exactly they calculate “global temperatures” for that period.

    Besides, references to “global temperature” are not necessary, since CO2 can not have any climate sensitivity for purely physical reasons.

  • Avatar

    Al Shelton


    Thanks for that.
    To me, it is a disgrace that GHEers will not acknowledge this and continue to go on and on arguing about the degree of warming; 1. Alarmist; 2. Warmist; 3. Luke Warmist, when CO2 and the GHE Theory is insignificant.

  • Avatar

    Claudius Denk


    Realclimate is a propaganda website that is funded by NASA in an (illegal?) clandestine manner through Gavin Schmidt, a NASA employee. It’s really clever how they pulled this off. If it was an official NASA site then they couldn’t get away with the heavy-handed censorship of anything skeptical of their phoney premise. By claiming that Gavin manages this in his “spare” time NASA has found a way to fund the propaganda machine that insures that the american taxpayer keeps footing the bill for this phoney science.

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