It’s all bollocks

My paper on the statistics of “global warming” has been accepted by Energy and Environment.

The good bits are as follows:

Introduction
In recent decades energy policy, both nationally and internationally, has been primarily concerned with the reduction in carbon emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. This has arisen from a proliferation of theories of climate, encapsulated in complex numerical models, which purport to relate global surface air temperature to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All this activity is based on a single empirical observation, viz.: that there has been a significant increase in global average temperature over the last century and a half. Here we show that this observation is false and is based on an overly-simplistic interpretation of the data.

(Nine pages of technical stuff)

Conclusion
The process which gives rise to a red spectrum flattened below a cut-off frequency is widely found in engineering and in nature. In electronics it occurs when electronic noise is fed through an RC integrator as with the bass control of an audio amplifier. In the natural world it occurs when energy is randomly stored. It is a particular sort of Markov process termed a “centrally biased random walk” and known colloquially as “red noise”. Using the techniques described above other “oscillations” such as the Pacific Decade Oscillation can also be shown to be centrally biased random walks specified by a small number of ARMA parameters. This is not surprising since the PDO is derived from a large subset of the global average temperature data used here.

The small increase in global average temperature observed over the last 166 years is the random variation of a centrally biased random walk. It is a red noise fluctuation. It is not significant, it is not a trend and it is not likely to continue.

The full paper can be downloaded from http://blackjay.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/MS1.pdf

John Reid
Editor

The South Australian Blackout II

Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria
Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria

The South Australian Blackout II

by Terence Cardwell

What does the future hold for South Australia?

It has become clear now that the failure of the South Australian Grid system was caused by the erratic behaviour, and then the sudden auto-shutdown, of the wind generators. This substantially increased the load on the Victoria-to-South Australia interconnector, which exceeded the maximum allowable load and tripped the overload system.

The badly-built towers that fell over would have been isolated in just one-tenth of a second by the system protection mechanism, and if the grid system had sufficient stable base-load power you would have seen just a ‘bump’ on the system voltage and frequency graphs, but this would have been nothing that it couldn’t handle under normal circumstances.

The New South Wales system could lose 2 x 660 MW units and still recover stability after the spinning reserve and the unit’s load maximum rate pickups came into action, all within a matter of seconds. But South Australia was a very under-protected and unstable grid system, with many little gas-fired powered stations trying to prop up an insane setup.

There is no doubt it will happen again and again; this was not a once off.

What now for the future of South Australia?

Any businesses, especially in manufacturing and mining, whether large or small, will tell you that one of the most important factors is the reliability of supply of electricity, and its cost. The bigger the enterprise, the more important it is.

Now that South Australia has shown itself to be unreliable and expensive in this regard, companies will be making every effort to leave it in droves. Any business planning to go there now would be having very serious doubts about whether they should do so.

Any business in South Australia right now would be very nervous, especially a company such as BHP-Billiton that had to pay some $2,400,000 for the essential power it had to have: power that would have cost only $500,000 normally from the S.A. grid. This is because the South Australian price was a staggering $300 a Megawatt.hour; in any other state it would have been much cheaper at about $60 per Megawatt.hour.

The irony is that in all probability the power being used presently comes through the Victorian interconnector, and is supplied from brown-coal power stations. The even bigger hypocrisy is that the Greens want to close down the very power stations that are supplying power to South Australia.

So what can S.A. do to fix this major dilemma?

There is no short term solution.

There is only one way solve the problem: stable power supplies are essential, whether generated by thermal or nuclear power stations. Little power stations are expensive, and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Not to build large and efficient units would be like a return to New South Wales in the 1950s.

Infrastructure planning must be based on advice from skilled and experienced experts; South Australia’s power problems show what happens when planning decisions are based on Environmentalist piety instead.

The South Australian Blackout

TerryCardwell

The South Australian Blackout.
by Terence Cardwell

This is NOT a once off event- it will happen again in the not too distant future and continue to do so.

Why? Because of the continual instability created in the grid system by the constantly changing wind generators and the reliance of power from Victoria, who have to continually get them out of their insane situation.

Any change in power generation from the wind generators has to be compensated for and chased by thermal power generation units which decreases their efficiency substantially and more than obviates any gain from wind generators. These severe load changes can create a power wave within the grid system that causes instability as the thermal units try to match the wind generators’ severe load changes.

Because the winds were so severe the wind generators would already have been non-operative and locked. So that 40% of the power was already out of service before the blackout. If the wind generators were allowed to operate in such severe winds they would have torn themselves apart.

So YES the wind generators DID cause the blackout by increasing the load substantially on the Victoria to S.A. interconnector.

It is the first time in the history of power generation in Australia that transmission towers have fallen over and we have seen far more severe weather than the S.A. storm. (I have personally operated units in such weather with no blackouts or instability in the grid system even though we lost two units. One of them being mine. The unit transformer was hit by a 20ft sheet of roofing aluminium torn of in the storm.)

Even though the towers had collapsed the grid system should not have gone out because the line protections covering those towers would have tripped within 6 cycles i.e. one tenth of a second, isolating them from the grid and protecting the rest of the grid system.

The hypocrisy of the South Australian Government is unbelievable. Because they had knocked down their black bituminous coal fired thermal power stations they had insufficient power. So then they had to import it from Victoria through the state interconnector which was never intended for that purpose. When the interconnector exceeded its maximum load capacity, it tripped, as it was supposed to do.

Guess where the imported power is generated? Yes Victoria—but where? The brown coal fired thermal power stations that have a thermal efficiency half of that of the black coal fired power stations that South Australia decommissioned to pander to the Greens.

The average price for electricity in South Australia with its 40% renewable energy is over $300 per megawatt hour. The average cost of electricity in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania is around $80.00 per megawatt hour.

To those gullible people who are so passionate about  ‘clean energy’ you can expect similar prices in the other states should they adopt South Australia’s renewable energy program.
Terry Cardwell worked for 25 years for the Electricity Commission of NSW working, commissioning and operating the various power units. His last commission was at the Munmorah Power Station near Newcastle, with four, very large, 350 MW power generating units.

He blogs at http://terrycardwellsblog.blogspot.com.au/

There is no significant trend in global average temperature

figure_1

The wiggly line in Figure (a) shows the global average surface temperature anomaly for the last 166 years.  The solid line shows the so-called “trend” fitted by ordinary least squares regression of temperature on time. The dashed curve shows this trend plus a “multidecadal oscillation”.

Figure (b) shows the time series of residuals, i.e. what is left behind when the dashed line is subtracted from the original data.

Figure (c) shows the autocorrelation function of the residuals. These are all positive from Lag = 1 to Lag = 30 indicating that the residuals are highly self-correlated and that this simple linear regression model must be rejected at a high level of significance.

However an alternative, stochastic, “ARMA” model gives residuals which are not self-correlated and which does fit the data very well indeed. This model indicates that there are no significant trends and oscillations in the data.

The apparent trend is due to the false correlation which occurs when “red noise” data are regressed on time as the explanatory variable. This phenomenon is well known in Econometrics.

There is no rising trend in global average temperature. The observed variations are due entirely to red noise  also known as a “centrally biased random walk”.

The paper has been accepted by Energy and Environment. A preprint can be downloaded here.

John Reid

Editor, Blackjay

The Troubling Science

MichaelHart

Michael Hart is a Canadian academic with an impressive list of credentials. He has just put out a book – Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change.

This article covers many of the topics that have been raised here at Blackjay over the last couple of years. It is must-read for anyone with lingering doubts about the supposed urgent need for action on climate change.

For example: Alarm over a changing climate leading to malign results is in many ways the product of the hunger for stability and direction in a post-Christian world. Humans have a deep, innate need for a transcendent authority. Having rejected the precepts of Christianity, people in the advanced economies of the West are turning to other forms of authority. Putting aside those who cynically exploit the issue for their own gain – from scientists and politicians to UN leaders and green businesses – most activists are deeply committed to a secular, statist, anti-human, earth-centric set of beliefs which drives their claims of a planet in imminent danger from human activity. To them, a planet with fewer people is the ultimate goal, achievable only through centralized direction and control. As philosopher of science Jeffrey Foss points out, “Environmental science conceives and expresses humankind’s relationship to nature in a manner that is – as a matter of observable fact – religious.” It “prophesies an environmental apocalypse. It tells us that the reason we confront apocalypse is our own environmental sinfulness. Our sin is one of impurity. We have fouled a pure, ‘pristine’ nature with our dirty household and industrial wastes. The apocalypse will take the form of an environmental backlash, a payback for our sins. … environmental scientists tell people what they must do to be blameless before nature.”

The interview concludes: it will take a determined effort by people of faith and conscience to convince our political leaders that they have been gulled by a political movement exploiting fear of climate change to push a utopian, humanist agenda that most people would find abhorrent. As it now stands, politicians are throwing money that they do not have at a problem that does not exist in order to finance solutions that make no difference. The time has come to call a halt to this nonsense and focus on real issues that pose real dangers. In a world beset by war, terrorism, and continuing third-world poverty, there are far more important things on which political leaders need to focus.

It may be nitpicking but the one thing I disagree with is his use of the term “humanist” in the final paragraph. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The utopian agenda is certainly not humanist. Any philosophy in which wilderness has greater value than community, in which humans are seen as a “scourge on the planet” a la Attenborough and which supports the dogma and pseudo-science of climate change is certainly not humanist.

But I agree with him about the rest of it.

John Reid

Editor

 

If the link doesn’t work, you can download a PDF from here: MichaelHartInterview.

A Young Person’s Guide to the Greenhouse Effect

RecHist

Climate change is a hot topic. Despite the experts telling us that ‘the
science is settled’ it just does not appear to be the case. This is the first in a series of Guides which describe the science issues in language that ordinary people can understand.

How did it all it start?

It really started not long after the Second World War when Rachel Carson wrote a book called The Silent Spring. She used that title to tell us that one year, when spring arrives, there may be no birds singing because they have all been killed by pollution. People started to realize that the environment was very important and that Mankind could destroy it or stop it from working properly.
A wonderful new insecticide had been discovered during the War called DDT. It was very cheap to make and very effective. It was soon being used everywhere to kill malaria-carrying mosquitos and insects that ate farm crops. Then scientists began to notice side effects. Some wild birds had stopped breeding properly because small amounts of left-over chemicals from DDT in the food-chain made their eggshells too thin and the eggs broke before their chicks had hatched properly. DDT chemicals were even found in birds in Antarctica tens of thousands of miles away from where it had been used.

At the same time people were also worried about nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. For the first time the idea of wiping out all humans or all life on Earth appeared to be a real possibility.

These things really scared the hell out of people.

As a result the Environmental Movement sprang up. It is still going
today. Many of these problems have been fixed but people still feel very anxious about pollution and keeping our planet safe. It’s the only one we’ve got.

Why is Carbon Dioxide so important?

Back in the 1950’s Charles Keeling started making very precise and regular measurements of the amount of various gases in the atmosphere to see if they were changing. He did his experiments on a mountain in Hawaii a long way away from industry and traffic because he wanted to get an idea of what was happening on a global scale. These measurements are still being made in Hawaii today and in a number of other places such as the Base Line Monitoring Station at Cape Grim in Tasmania. All the measurements showed that one gas, Carbon Dioxide, CO2 , has been steadily increasing all over the world. At the same time the average temperature of the earth has also been increasing (but not quite so steadily).

Because the environment scare and the nuclear war scare were fresh in people’s minds they decided that the two things were connected and that rising CO2 must be causing the temperature to go up. They started calling CO2 a ‘pollutant’ like DDT and radioactive fallout. The increase in CO2 is supposed to be due to humans burning coal and oil in industry but there are other explanations for it.
Many scientists believe there has been an hysterical over-reaction to these  observations and that, apart from the fact that both CO2 and temperature have both been increasing recently, there is really no evidence to connect the two things. It is just a delayed reaction to the ‘Future Shock’ of the scary 1950s.

But isn’t CO2 a greenhouse gas?

By ‘greenhouse gas’ we mean a gas that absorbs long-wave infrared radiation (LWIR). There are three main ones: CO2 , H2 O and O3 (ozone).

There is a simple mechanism by which greenhouses and cars get hot in the sun. Visible light from the sun comes in through the windows and heats the car seats. When things are heated they give off radiation with wavelengths that depend on the temperature. The sun is very hot so it gives out visible light and short-wave infrared. The car seats, although they are hot, are still much cooler than the sun so they give out LWIR. You can’t see it but you can feel it on your skin. The important thing is that LWIR doesn’t go through glass! So it gets trapped inside the car and the car gets hot.

In the same way sunlight comes in through the atmosphere and heats
the rocks and the grass and the sea which give off the LWIR which cannot get back out through the atmosphere because of the greenhouse gases so the earth stays warm just like the inside of a car in the sun.

If there were no greenhouse gases the earth would be −18 C(0 F) on average. This happens sometimes and we get an ice-age. Ice-ages are like leaving the car windows down.

Now here is the crunch: cars with thick glass windows don’t get any
hotter in the sun than cars with thin glass windows. Thin and thick glass both stop the LWIR almost completely.

Unless we are in an ice-age, adding more CO2 to the atmosphere
does not make it any warmer!

Then how does the earth lose the heat from the sun if the LWIR cannot get past the atmosphere? The earth should be getting hotter and hotter like a car in the hot sun.

I was only talking about radiation. There is another way that heat can get out. It is called convection: ‘hot air rises’. The most spectacular convection occurs during tropical storms. Hot moist air from the surface of the sea starts to rise. As it rises it expands and cools. As it cools water comes out as rain.  This warms the air again so it rises even faster. Huge amounts of energy are released and the net effect is to carry heat from the surface of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere where the greenhouse gases are so thin that radiation kicks in. The excess heat is then radiated into space.
This is why the temperature of the tropical ocean seldom rises above
28 C (83 F). When it gets too hot, a tropical cyclone happens which cools everything down again.

Something similar happens at cooler latitudes but it is a lot less dramatic.

How do we know this? Everyone knows that as you get higher in the
atmosphere it gets cooler as you get away from the source of the heat.

True. There is snow at the top of mountains, even in the tropics.
If you compress a gas it gets hotter as anyone who has pumped up a bike tyre will know. We can predict how much hotter using the science of thermodynamics. If you let air expand it will cool down.

Imagine a parcel of air moving upwards. The pressure gets less and it
expands. When it expands it cools down. Thermodynamics tells us exactly how much it will cool down and exactly what the decrease in temperature will be for every meter you go up. For a stable atmosphere this is called ‘the adiabatic lapse rate’. It is measured hundreds of times a day with weather balloons.

Theory fits observation very well indeed. It has nothing to do with
greenhouse gases.

When CO2 and water vapour in the atmosphere increased at
the end of the last Ice Age, which had lasted for more than 80,000
years, it made the earth warm again . It made the big ice caps melt
and raised the level of the ocean. That happened 11,000 years ago
and created a boom time for Homo Sapiens (us). Apart from a few
random fluctuations, our climate has been remarkably warm and
stable ever since.

A pdf version of this post can be downloaded here: YPGTGE.

The Green Hegemony

The following are extracts from an ABC News bulletin broadcast on 30 January:

Wilderness photographer and bushwalker Dan Broun has just returned from the Central Plateau.
Vision he filmed shows how the fires have raced through the area, which is home to unique alpine flora including pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants, some more than 1,000 years old.
Mr Broun walked four hours into the bushfire affected areas on Saturday. “We need for people to understand that this is not a natural event.”

Ecologist Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick is also upset by the loss of alpine flora. “They’re killed by fire and they don’t come back,” said Professor Kirkpatrick. “It’s a species that would have been around in the cretaceous period. It’s regarded as one of the main reasons for listing Tasmania as a world heritage area.”

Fire ecologist David Bowman said the fires burning in Tasmania were a sign of climate change.
“This is bigger than us. This is what climate change looks like, this is what scientists have been telling people, this is system collapse.”

One cannot help but be saddened by this bushfire and the devastation it has wrought in the Tasmanian Highlands but the conclusions being drawn by the ABC’s experts are plain nonsense.
The nearest met station to the area under discussion is Liawenee, where, fortuitously, the Hydro Electric Commission began keeping records in the 1920s. According to the archives the mean annual rainfall between 1920 and 1926 was 1072 mm and that between 2003 and 2015 was 929 mm, a difference of only 13 percent. Furthermore average annual rainfall between 1957 and 1963 was even smaller, being only 914 mm.

There is no evidence of a change in the climate in this area and Prof. Bowman’s statement that “This is what climate change looks like … this is system collapse.” is not supported by the facts. Prof. Kirkpatrick’s similar lament that species that “have been around since the cretaceous” are “killed by fire and … don’t come back” is equally hard to swallow. Are we really expected to believe that, after 70 million years of ice-ages, cosmic impacts and major bushfires, conditions are so bad right now that these species are suddenly gone for good? Are we to believe that the alpine herbfield of the Highlands has never burned before?

Wildfire is a natural phenomenon in the Tasmanian landscape and this was so for millions of years prior to the arrival of humans. Indeed many indigenous species have evolved to deal with fire, and some, the eucalypts, even use fire to compete with rainforest species. And yet here we have two of the state’s foremost ecologists seemingly implying that somehow all this is Man’s handiwork.

What is behind these alarmist statements?

In my view they are a manifestation of the Green Hegemony which has been growing for the last 70 years or so. The communist intellectual, Gramsci, developed the idea of cultural hegemony to describe the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of that society — the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that their ruling-class world-view becomes the world-view that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm. In our dealings with the natural world we are expected to kow-tow to university scientists such as Bowman and Kirkpatrick who constitute a de facto intellectual elite, even though their fervently held opinions do not stand up to close scrutiny.

Some of the beliefs, explanations etc., i.e. the principles, that underlie this hegemony are as follows:

  • that there is a “natural balance”,
  • that this balance is disturbed by humanity to the detriment of Nature and
  • that any change in the natural world is evidence of such disturbance.

From these simple axioms many conclusions are drawn, such as

  1. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing and this is entirely due to human industrial activity and land use changes.
  2. Global average temperature is fluctuating therefore all increases (but not decreases) are due to #1 above.
  3. That the number of individuals of many animal and plant species are changing therefore this is always due to environmental and climate changes wrought by humanity.
  4. That there are too many people on the Planet.
  5. That the Planet would be better off if there were no people at all.
  6. That the Planet is facing immanent environmental disaster.
  7. That it is therefore imperative that we limit industrial activity.
  8. That it is therefore imperative that we limit population.
  9. That we do not have time to verify these conclusions using the scientific method but must act immediately before it is too late.

Firstly let me say – this is not science. These are not scientific principles thrashed out over the centuries by the Newtons and the Einsteins. The above principles correspond more closely to religious beliefs – ideas of purity and defilement are present in many religions; the Christians have the idea of original sin. In my view the Environmental Hegemony has come to hold sway partly as a result of the decline of religious belief in the West.

The three principles set out above can neither be proved nor disproved. They are a given. No-one has ever demonstrated that there is, or was, a natural balance. Indeed when a “natural balance” is observed, for example, one large boulder balancing on another, it is a spectacle so rare it is given a name, “The Devil’s Marbles”, or some such and becomes a tourist attraction.

Certainly humanity has affected the natural world to a remarkable degree; witness the transformation of much of Northern Europe and North America from forest to farmland but whether this was desirable or detrimental is a value judgement. Only a century ago most people would have seen this transformation as desirable. Back in those days, “wilderness” was a pejorative term.

It is no coincidence that these beliefs have grown up since the advent of new technologies, typified by satellites and computers, enabled us to gather and view environmental data on an unprecedented scale. When we did this the results turned out to be rather shocking:

The Environment is changing all the time!

How can this be? It is supposed to be a steady-state, a natural balance, Paley’s timepiece. And yet it behaves in this seemingly random and erratic way whenever we look at the fine detail. Global temperature, sea ice extent, glacier extent, the composition of the atmosphere all vary over time.

Obviously something is going on here; perhaps humans are to blame.

People have always been aware of the random nature of the weather but it was assumed that over large regions of space and large intervals of time these irritating variations would “cancel one another out”. After all, everyone knows that if you toss a coin a sufficient number of times the closer you get to 50 percent heads and 50 percent tails. Why doesn’t the weather average out like that to give a stable climate?

Well, in fact it does but we never see “average weather”, we only see “sample” weather. If you toss a coin a number of times the number of heads minus the number of tails is rarely exactly zero and the difference between heads and tails generally gets further and further away from zero as the number of tosses increases. The difference between the number of heads and the number of tails is called a random walk; its variance increases with the length of the sample.

I have shown statistically that global average temperature is also a random walk implying that there is nothing unexpected nor unusual about global temperature. There is no need to look for an explanation in terms of CO2 or solar activity or anything else. There is nothing to explain. There has been no climate change, at least not since Termination I which happened 11,000 years ago. The variations we have seen over the last 135 years are only what you would expect to see. The slight upward trend is known as a spurious regression. It would be strange if global average temperature ware completely uniform. Had it been trending downwards the alarmists would be predicting another ice age (as indeed they were in the 1970s). Much the same argument can be applied to other natural phenomena – “threatened” species numbers, ice-pack extent and so on.

My paper on this topic can be found here. It has so far been rejected by the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society and by Tellus A, a prestigious Swedish meteorological journal.

It might be argued that even if the Green Hegemony is technically not proven scientifically, it is no bad thing to “care for the planet”.

I strongly disagree.

Back in the 1960s when Rachel Carson wrote “A Silent Spring” there was certainly a need for action. Industries were free to pollute, willy-nilly, with no thought for the consequences. Heavy metals and PCBs fouled our waterways and photochemical smog polluted the air we breathe. Something had to be done.

And so it was. Industry in Western countries was forced to clean up its act. This is only now starting to happen in emerging economies such as China whose example serves to show us how far we have come.

However in the process a whole new zeitgeist came into being, a sort of politicised pantheism which I am describing; the Green Hegemony.

There is a downside to this. Here are a few examples:

There is now a confusion of Environmentalism with science in people’s minds. We are seeing a corruption of scientific data sets and of the scientific process which accompanies that confusion. See, for example, Jennifer Marohasy’s blog. Many scientists now see it as more important to save the Planet than to understand it. Anything which serves that end is seen as good science. In effect, taxpayers are funding zealots to preach to them. The scientific method has been abandoned in climate change circles.

There is a growing incapacity to manage natural phenomena stemming from profound misunderstanding of the natural world – examples are the downgrading of hazard reduction in the management of bushfires (e.g. the Kinglake fires and the ensuing Royal Commission) and the grotesque mismanagement of the Macquarie Island ecosystem which cost the taxpayer $23 million to repair.

But worst of all is the anti-humanism that accompanies green zealotry. We need to be very, very careful about this.

In a recent post David Attenborough was quoted as saying that humanity is a scourge on the planet and that if we don’t limit our population ‘the natural world will do it for us’. This philosophy is called Malthusianism. This is discussed by Matt Ridley in his recent book “The Evolution of Everything”.

It lead directly to:

  1. The appalling treatment of the Irish during the Great Famine,
  2. The deliberate starvation of millions in India in 1877,
  3. The German Society for Racial Hygiene (1905),
  4. The forcible sterilization of over 5,000 people per month in Germany in the 1930s,
  5. The forcible sterilization of 63,000 people in the US in the 1970s and
  6. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

Of course “the natural world will do it for us”; all of my friends are ultimately going to die – that doesn’t mean I should go out and kill them.

Such a statement highlights the difference between being Left and being Green. The Left thinks Capitalism is despicable, the Greens think Humanity is despicable.

This is where it leads: to the delusions of state planning, of state control, of dirigisme, to the crushing of the human spirit, to a lack of faith in humanity itself. Imagine a world without humans; no chess, no mathematics, no science, no wonder, no dogs, no music, no painting, no art, no love, no conversation, no friends, no compassion.

Just bush.

Humanity is the best thing to happen to this planet, not the worst.

A letter to the paper – part II

Most of the letters in response to my original letters confirm my proposition that belief in Climate Change is ideological rather than scientific.

There was however one notable exception from my former colleague, Neil White.

Neil White’s Letter – 27 November:

John Reid seems to be bound up in an ideological strait jacket.

Physical systems don’t change at random, they change because of what is happening around them and in them.

The belief that the temperature time series looks like a random walk
(a) has been demonstrated to be wrong and
(b) is irrelevant anyway as this explanation ignores well-understood physics.

Unlike the other letters, Neil’s argument is not ideological blather. What is going on here?

A bit of philosophy – bear with me.

French scientist, Laplace. In 1814 he said:
We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.

This is the philosophy of Determinism.

It held sway until the end of the century when people like Boltzmann and Planck discovered that much of physics could be explained in terms of very large numbers of molecules bumping into one another at random. This is the alternative statistical or stochastic view of the world. At the same time the discovery of radioactivity confirmed that in Nature things do indeed happen at random. Boltzmann and Planck had laid the foundation of statistical physics and quantum mechanics.

Brownian motion is named after the botanist Robert Brown. In 1827, while looking through a microscope at pollen grains in water, he noted that the particles moved through the water but was not able to determine the mechanisms that caused this motion. They move in a jerky, random way called a random walk.

Armed with these new statistical concepts, Albert Einstein published a paper in 1905 that explained in precise detail how the motion that Brown had observed was a result of the pollen being bombarded by the random thermal motions of individual water molecules. This explanation of Brownian motion served as definitive confirmation that atoms and molecules really do exist.

Nowadays stochastic process pervades the physicist’s view of the world. It leads to the second law of thermodynamics (heat never flows from colder to hotter, i.e. entropy never decreases) and the idea that information and entropy are two sides of the same coin.

So we can take with a grain of salt Neil’s statement that physical systems don’t change at random. It is a 19th Century concept. His statement (a) is just plain wrong. My forthcoming paper will explain why it is wrong but it is too technical to go into here.

One field of science in which the stochastic model has had zero effect is fluid mechanics which is firmly trapped in the 19th Century. The fundamental equations of fluid dynamics are deterministic and cannot even handle the most fundamental phenomenon in fluid dynamics which is turbulence. Turbulence is a stochastic process. Hence Neil’s statement (b) is also somewhat optimistic; equations which cannot account for laboratory-scale turbulence can hardly be described as “well-understood”.

In fact fluid dynamics is not really a science at all. It is a branch of applied mathematics. Applied mathematicians confidently predict how the Universe ought to work, physicists strive to discover how it actually does work. There is a big difference. Applied mathematicians are rather like Dorothy Parker saying: I have made up my mind. Don’t confuse me with facts.

This may not have mattered too much. Applied mathematicians could have gone on in their ivory towers teaching students how to solve differential equations and pursuing their various arcane hobbies.

Then two things happened:

  1. people started wondering about whether increases in CO2 from industry could affect the climate and
  2. electronic computers gave the world unprecedented computational power.

So the fluid dynamics people, who already used fluid dynamic computer models to make weather forecasts, told everybody they could do the same thing for climate. Obviously, they thought, if you can predict the weather a week ahead, with a bit of tweaking you can predict the climate centuries into the future and so estimate the effect that CO2 will have on the planet.

No one stopped to ask whether this was in fact possible!

So what these guys did was to take Laplace’s deterministic world view and code it up for a super computer.

They took a modelling technique which is ideally suited to predicting the behaviour of machines and celestial bodies and applied it to the fluid processes of an entire planet.

It has failed dismally.

All the computer models predict exponentially rising temperatures but the real world fails to follow suit; exponentially rising temperatures have not been observed. But now so much money and effort have gone into this project that no-one can admit that it is a failure. Instead they desperately clutch at straws while science administrators and science PR people become ever more implausible in their excuses and ever more hysterical in their predictions.

If you look carefully at 135 years of good global average temperature data, it is a random walk like the movement of a pollen grain under a microscope. The supposed rising trend is just a random excursion. These apparent trends in random walk data are well known in Economics (spurious regression – Granger and Newbold, 1974). So far this idea has not filtered through to climate science.

There is no evidence of climate change; climate is a random walk.

A letter to the paper

On Tuesday 4th November my letter appeared in the Hobart Mercury Letters column:

My former colleagues, Doctors Hunter and Godfrey, seem anxious to promote the idea that climate change presents an immanent threat to civilization and that we should cease using fossil fuels ASAP. Your readers should be aware that in doing so they speak as environmental advocates not as scientists. Scientists, by definition, use the scientific method whereby theories which do not account for observations are rejected. Science is about facts.

In the present case, observed variations in global temperature may be fully accounted for as a random walk. The theory that there is an underlying rising trend in global temperature can be rejected with a high level of confidence; it is what is called a spurious regression. Scientists who continue to promote this theory do not understand statistics.

To some it may appear that global warming “must” be true because of observed variations of CO2 in the atmosphere. This too is a furphy. The rapid removal of radioactive carbon from the atmosphere following the 1960s atomic bomb tests demonstrates clearly that such variations are largely due to interchanges between the atmosphere and a very large oceanic reservoir and not to human activity.

The weight of opinion favours an alarmist view of climate change; the weight of evidence does not.

John Reid
Cygnet

It must have touched a nerve because on Friday 6 November there were five letters in response:

One was supportive (thank you Peter Troy), the rest trotted out the familiar arguments:

… the stakes in the climate change argument are very much higher than losing your house …

… burning of Borneo … melting of the ancient Greenland icecaps … seawater acidity affecting molluscs corals and plankton on which the world’s food chain relies …

… weight of scientific opinion …

… 9200 published papers …

… I hope the Mercury applies some sort of quality control to the letters it publishes …

I replied as follows:

Dear Sir

The responses in Friday’s Letters page to my letter about climate change all seem to have missed the point. I said that Hunter and Godfrey were speaking as Environmentalists not as scientists. This was not a put-down of Environmentalism nor of them as competent scientists, it was a statement of fact. They make moral judgements about how we should deal with the world, the climate in particular. They have every right to do this, but science is not about moral judgements, it is about facts. It is not about what ought to be the case, it is about what is the case.

This distinction between science and ideology is important; it first happened in the 17th century with the foundation of the Royal Society and resulted in great advances in science. Now the distinction has again become blurred so that scientists like myself, who dare to suggest that the global warming hypothesis may be wrong, are treated, not as mistaken, but as traitorous. Why would people become so passionate about this issue if it were not ideological? This confusion of science and Environmentalism distorts them both. Unfortunately it is a confusion which affects journal editors and funding agencies as much as scientists themselves.

Ideologies (including religions) are the means by which human moral progress is facilitated, the means by which great numbers of people organise themselves to make the world a better place: to convert the heathen, to free the slave, to save the Planet. The problem is, ideologies are static. It is almost impossible to change an ideology once it is established. People who try to do so are often denigrated as ‘heretics’, ‘recidivists’ and so on.

Environmentalism is no exception. It has been with us since Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ alerted us to the dangers of unrestrained industrial pollution. The environment became something worth preserving, not just because of its relevance to human welfare but for its own sake. But Environmentalism is holding science back. Unlike ideology, science changes all the time as new discoveries and new ideas come to light. In the field of climate science, because of its ideological character, new discoveries likely to challenge the accepted narrative are lucky to see the light of day.

One such new idea is that of false correlation and spurious regression. This has been widely used in the field of econometrics since 1974, but is not seen as relevant in climate science. My present paper on this topic, which explains global temperature changes as random fluctuations, has already been rejected twice by peer-reviewed journals.

I intend to persevere. Wish me luck.

John Reid
P.O. Box 279
Cygnet 7112

So far my reply, like my paper,  has not appeared in print.

Note: the second letter finally appeared in the Mercury on 24 Nov. 2015, almost unedited. A PDF can be downloaded here:  Letter241115.

The Embarrassing Bomb-Test-Curve

Screenshot-2

The Embarrassing Bomb-Test-Curve

Why all the fuss about carbon? It only stays in the atmosphere for 10 years.

During the 1950s and 1960s, several nations performed atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. The radiation effects of these tests produced large amounts of C14-carbon dioxide (14CO2) in the air. 14C is an isotope of carbon, the common isotope being 12C. When the bomb tests ceased in 1963, the atmospheric level of 14CO2 had been raised to about twice its previous natural value. This extra 14CO2 can be used as a tracer for tracking the movement of carbon through the natural world – the Carbon Cycle. This wonderfully serendipitous experiment would be hard to beat even if someone designed it.

Over the following half-century the amount of 14CO2 measured in the global atmosphere diminished in a text-book exponential manner as shown in the diagrams above.

14C is radioactive but this curve is not the radioactive decay curve. The half-life of radioactive 14C is 5,730 years , whereas the half-time of the bomb-test curve is only 10 years, i.e. after 10 years only half was left, after 20 years, one quarter was left, after 30 years, only one eighth and so on.

The half-time of CO2 in the atmosphere is of great interest to climate modellers. They assume that CO2 is removed from the atmosphere according to a theoretical curve called the “Bern Model” or a similar curve called the ISAM model. The blue line in the lower panel shows predicted atmospheric decay curve of 14CO2 according to the Bern Model. It is quite different to the observed curve.

The Bern Model utilises four different half-times and does not return to nearly zero after 60 years as does the bomb-test curve. According to the Bern Model it will take centuries for 14CO2 (and anthropogenic CO2) to be ultimately removed from the atmosphere. The modellers chose to adopt the more alarmist scenario despite the fact that it is “non-physical” (i.e. obviously wrong).

Admittedly it is complicated: CO2 reacts with water chemically and this slows down the rate at which it dissolves. Furthermore, while there is a fast interchange of gases between the atmosphere and the top 100 metres or so of the ocean called the “mixed layer” (~70 Gt per year), it is widely assumed that there is much less transport through the bottom of the mixed layer (~2 Gt per year, IPCC figures). The latter is the reason for the flattening out of the Bern Model curve at times longer than 60 years.

But despite these quibbles about the half-time and the shape of the curve, one incontrovertible fact remains:

In 50 years nearly all the bomb-test 14CO2 has disappeared!

Since the 14CO2 reaction rates, solubilities and diffusion times are very similar to those 12CO2, this implies that all the ordinary atmospheric CO2 in the atmosphere at the time of the bomb test has completely changed over.

Where has all the 14CO2 gone?

There are various possible CO2 reservoirs, e.g. the biosphere and the mixed layer, but the problem is that these are roughly same size as the atmosphere. A new equilibrium would be soon be reached wherein the bomb 14CO2 would be partitioned between the reservoirs in proportion to their capacity, so causing the bomb 14CO2 in the atmosphere to level off in a similar way to the Bern model curve.

Instead it tends to zero. That this happens implies that the bomb 14CO2 has either been transported to a reservoir that is much, much larger than the atmosphere or it has left the ocean-atmosphere system.

It is commonly accepted that approximately 38,000 Gt of CO2 are dissolved in the deep ocean, more than 100 times the amount generated by humans since the start of the industrial revolution. The deep ocean is larger than any other conceivable reservoir. Either the missing 14C is sequestered in the deep ocean or it has been removed altogether, perhaps as carbonate in the skeletal material of sea creatures.

WOCE – the World Ocean Circulation Experiment produced detailed maps of the major constituents of the oceans in the mid-1990s. The WOCE Atlas is on-line and it is certainly worth a look; oceanography at its very best. The Pacific Ocean maps and sections are the most detailed and complete.

One of the chemical signatures mapped by WOCE is delta 14C, the proportion of 14C above the background level. Here is a map of delta 14C in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 200 metres:

pac200_delc14

and here is a longitudinal section of the top 1000m at 150 deg W (near the Hawaiian Islands, represented by the black bar):

P16_DELC14_upper_2500

All of the pink area (delta 14C positive) reflects bomb-test 14C. Using WOCE maps of total carbon it is possible to estimate how much of the bomb-contaminated atmosphere finished up in the Pacific Ocean after 30 years.

The answer is 30 Gt, only a tiny fraction of 700 Gt lost from the atmosphere in that time.

Evidently atmospheric carbon is being sequestered in the Pacific at the rate of about 1 Gt/year which fits the IPCC figure of 2Gt per year for the whole ocean. Wherever most of the bomb-test 14C has gone, it is not the Pacific Ocean.

What about the Southern Ocean? Because the Southern Ocean is so turbulent, it has a very deep mixed layer and, in theory, this should allow, atmospheric CO2 to mix down much deeper and then to flow northward along constant density surfaces (isopycnals) into the deep, temperate-zone ocean. However recent theoretical work (Sallee et al, Nature Geoscience, 2012) has shown that only 0.42 Gt per year can be sequestered in this way. Furthermore WOCE sections such as Section P16, shown above, do not support the idea that the Southern Ocean is the gateway for CO2 transport into the deep Pacific. Rather, these observations imply that the bomb-test 14C has moved slowly downwards and equator-wards from the north and south temperate zone mixed layers across the isopycnals.

What about the Indian and Atlantic Oceans?There appears to be no WOCE delta 14C data available for these oceans. After 20 years the WOCE people have not quite gotten around to working up the Indian and Atlantic 14C data for public display.

What is the problem? Bomb-test 14C is the best tracer available for tracking the circulation of the deep ocean, the stated aim of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment. Its absence from the WOCE data sets is very strange. Under normal circumstances it would be reasonable to assume that this is due to some sort of technical glitch or funding hiatus. However taken together with NASA’s obvious embarrassment with their remarkable OCO-2 satellite observations of atmospheric CO2 distribution discussed previously here and here, it implies a hidden agenda. At the time of writing no further OCO-2 maps have been published by NASA. Why are CO2 maps so embarrassing?

The Keeling Curve. Wikipedia: The Keeling Curve is a graph which plots the ongoing change in concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere since 1958. It is based on continuous measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii that began under the supervision of Charles David Keeling. Keeling’s measurements showed the first significant evidence of rapidly increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Many scientists credit Keeling’s graph with first bringing the world’s attention to the current increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Graphs showing the remorseless increase of atmospheric CO2 are commonplace on the Web and in the media. Keeling’s Mauna Loa graph has been replicated many times at other monitoring sites throughout the world such as the Baseline Monitoring Station at Cape Grim in NW Tasmania. It is incontestable; the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since 1958.

What is contestable is the explanation given for this increase. It is commonly assumed that the increase is entirely due to human industrial activity and land-use changes. It is commonly assumed that the movement of CO2 through the oceans and the biosphere, the Carbon Cycle, is well understood and that the human contribution is both significant and harmful. The bomb-test curve shows these assumptions to be questionable. It shows that the Carbon Cycle is certainly not well understood and that atmospheric CO2 does not behave as we thought it did back in 1995 when the IPCC was set up. As more information comes to light, the assumptions on which “Climate Science” is based become ever more dubious.

Gösta Pettersson, Professor Emeritus of biochemistry at Lund University and an expert in reaction kinetics, estimates that less than half of the observed CO2 increase is man-made. Murry Salby suggests the figure is less than one-third. If half of the atmospheric CO2 (360 Gt) turns over every 10 years due to natural causes this is hardly surprising; the human contribution in ten years is around 90 Gt.

Pettersson has self-published a book on this, “Falkst Alarm”, which unfortunately is in Swedish. English versions of key chapters can be downloaded here (paper4 and paper5).

Climate change has become a billion dollar industry. Let’s not spoil a good thing for the sake of a few maps.

The Subversion of Science by Green-Left Politics

JSR4

The Subversion of Science by Green-Left Politics.

by John Reid

The Enlightenment
The development of modern science in the late 18th century went hand in hand with the rise of modern industrial capitalism. Its potteries, mines, steam engines, mechanization, and science itself, were all done by private enterprise. The role of government was to enforce patents and maintain a healthy legal and commercial environment.

Nowadays most scientists are paid by the government. What passes for science has largely become taxpayer-funded Environmentalism. Environmentalism has taken over much of science.

Scientists discover, understand and inform. 

Environmentalists preach.

Quote

All of us … are borrowing against this Earth in the name of economic growth, accumulating an environmental debt by burning fossil fuels, the consequences of which will be left for our children and grandchildren to bear.  Marcia McNutt – Chief Editor, Science Magazine.

This is preaching. There is no scientific justification for this statement, which was made by the editor of  one of the world’s most prestigious science journals.  It is a statement of militant Environmentalism, pure and simple. To say that she should have known better is to misunderstand the situation. It would be like saying that the Communists, who controlled big chunks of the Australian trade union movement in the 1950s, “should have known better”.  Environmentalists are way ahead of those old Communists; their “Long March through the Institutions” is now a fait accompli.

It works like this: activists use science to push for international action on a science-related issue in an area such as health or environment. Then, an international agreement is established, and the science on which it is has been based becomes institutionalized and funded by government. Time and again, when this happens, “the science” stops being science. This is because the scientists working on the relevant topic start being advocates and stop being researchers. After all, they are now being paid by the bureaucracy to support a particular doctrine, not to discover new stuff.

Real science, which requires a sceptical and innovative frame of mind, then withers on the vine.

Here are some examples:

Radiation Health
In 2012 I received 7000 milli-Sieverts of radiation as treatment for prostate cancer. I found out from the Web that this is twice the fatal dose! I became curious about how I came to survive this assault  and I discovered that radiation administered in moderate doses is not cumulative and is not especially harmful. In my case it was definitely beneficial.

But the International Committee for Radiological Protection says otherwise . They say radiation effects are always cumulative and that there is no safe dose: see here about Wade Allison‘s book, Radiation and Reason.

But you can’t be too careful, I hear you say. Well, yes you certainly can be too careful.  The Japanese government was too careful when it forcibly relocated 100,000 people following the Fukushima meltdown.

The facts:

  • Number of deaths:    about 1600 people.
  • Cause of deaths:    Suicide mainly.
  • Number of cases of radiation sickness:    3 people.
  • Number of deaths caused by radiation:    none!

The suicides arose from the social dislocation which occurred when people were compelled to leave their homes and their farms and their jobs and their schools to be relocated to the other side of Japan for reasons of political correctness.

 

The 1968 London Convention on Ocean Dumping
This forbids the disposal of poisons such as heavy metals in the deep ocean. Hydrothermal vents were discovered in 1977, 9 years after the convention took place.  Also known as “black smokers”, they lie on mid-ocean ridges and above volcanic hotspots, 2 to 3 kilometres below the surface of the ocean. Every year they  pump into the ocean:

  • 500 tonnes of Arsenic,
  • 1500 tonnes of Lead,
  • 50,000 tonnes of Copper,
  • 140,000 tonnes of Zinc and
  • many other metals including Uranium and its radioactive daughters.

This has been going on for, perhaps, a billion years or so.

Nature is the biggest polluter of the ocean and the London Convention is a joke. In fact it is worse than a joke because it precludes sensible, practical solutions to important environmental problems. For example, without it we could dispose of radioactive waste in deep ocean trenches where it would be out of harm’s way until it is ultimately subducted under the earth’s crust by geological processes.

Climate Change
The IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is the most egregious example of this science-destroying institutionalization. It is all the more virulent because it feeds into the pre-existing mindset of Left and Green ideologies about “Corporate Greed” and “Mankind wrecking the planet”.

Billions of dollars are being pumped into this. Tens of thousands of climate modellers, their technicians and their computer jocks are the self-righteous recipients. They are not going to give up their funding easily – for them this is the greatest thing since sliced bread and, what is worse, most of them sincerely believe that they are saving the planet.

Over the last 30 years, Climate Science, once a forgotten little wallflower, has become a rock star.

There is really no solid evidence that human activities affect global climate. It is only a theory. Computer models based on this theory have no predictive power; they are  complicated curve-fitting exercises and, like all such curve-fitting exercise, they fail catastrophically outside the range of the fit.

On the other hand there is ample evidence that so-called “greenhouse gases” do not affect global temperature to any observable degree (see my UNFCCC Submission to the Federal Government for more detail), viz.:

  1. The observation that the amount of industrial CO2 added to the ocean-atmosphere system since the beginning of the industrial revolution, about 400 Gigatons, is only a tiny fraction of the total amount in the system, 32,000 Gigatons.

  2. The observed rate of decrease in temperature with height, the adiabatic lapse rate, is measured many times a day throughout the world by weather balloons and it fits a simple convective heat transport model of the lower atmosphere. It does not fit a simple radiative heat transport model; there is no blanket of CO2 “holding the heat in”.

  3. Careful comparisons of small changes in global average temperature with variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration indicate that the latter lags the former by about ten months indicating that temperature increases cause CO2 increases and not the other way around.

  4. The global distribution of atmospheric CO2 concentration recently observed by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory does not support the view that increases in this gas are largely due to Western industrial activity. Rather, the gas appears to emanate from the rice paddies and rain-forests of the Third World (see here and here).

  5. The observation that global average temperature has a variance spectrum which is “red” at every time scale from one year to 100,000 years (i.e. the longer the time scale the bigger the variation). The small variations (~0.8°C) which occurred during the 20th Century are only to be expected. They are random walk excursions. There is nothing to explain. Climate science is like picking patterns in TattsLotto numbers.  Meteorologists can predict the weather up to about a week ahead. That’s as good as it gets.

But if you are a scientist who is part of the climate change institution this evidence  is all irrelevant. The “Science of Climate Change” was frozen sometime back in the 1990s when the IPCC was first set up. Nowadays it is just a matter of running ever more complex computer simulations and making more “projections” of future climate and its alarming consequences.

And, of course, re-jigging the data so that it fits the models better.

We often hear it said that “97 percent of climate scientists agree …” and so on

Well they would, wouldn’t they.

 

About the author: I have a PhD in Upper Atmosphere Physics from the University of Tasmania. I have worked for the Australian Antarctic Division and CSIRO in auroral physics, ocean waves and fluid dynamic modelling.

I am a scientist – I discover things. I discovered cosmic noise absorption pulsations and I discovered the physics underlying the frequency down-shifting of surface gravity waves. I am presently working on a method for distinguishing between cyclical behaviour and random walk excursions in natural time series.

Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification

Okay then, if Climate Change is a furphy, what about Ocean Acidification? As CO2 induced acidity increases, at is certainly is at the moment, won’t this affect the capacity of all shellfish to breed and prosper as their shells dissolve or fail to form? Such an event must have a dramatic effect on marine ecosystems.

Here are some recent quotes from a experts:

Study outlines threat of ocean acidification to coastal communities in U.S.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion shelled mollusk industry (primarily oysters and clams) are at long-term economic risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, a new report concludes.

This first nationwide vulnerability analysis, which was funded through the National Science Foundation’s National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The Pacific Northwest has been the most frequently cited region with vulnerable shellfish populations … “Ocean acidification has already cost the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly $110 million and jeopardized about 3,200 jobs,” said Julie Ekstrom, who was lead author on the study while with the Natural Resources Defense Council. She is now at the University of California at Davis.

George Waldbusser, an Oregon State University marine ecologist and biogeochemist, said the spreading impact of ocean acidification is due primarily to increases in greenhouse gases.

And here are some more experts from the same university:

Researchers think Axial Seamount off Northwest coast is erupting – right on schedule

04/30/2015

NEWPORT, Ore. – Axial Seamount, an active underwater volcano located about 300 miles off the coast of Oregon and Washington, appears to be erupting – after two scientists had forecast that such an event would take place there in 2015.

Geologists Bill Chadwick of Oregon State University and Scott Nooner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington made their forecast last September during a public lecture and followed it up with blog posts and a reiteration of their forecast just last week at a scientific workshop.

They based their forecast on some of their previous research – funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which showed how the volcano inflates and deflates like a balloon in a repeatable pattern as it responds to magma being fed into the seamount.

Maybe the unusually high CO2 concentrations observed in the coastal waters of Oregon have something to do with this persistent underwater volcano.

How long have we got?

Well it is not that simple.

Kate Madin writing in Oceanus Magazine, December 2009:

The scientists exposed the tanks to air containing CO2 at today’s level (400 parts per million, or ppm), at levels that climate models forecast for 100 years from now (600 ppm) and 200 years from now (900 ppm), and at a level (2,850 ppm) that should cause the types of calcium carbonate in shells (aragonite and high-magnesium calcite) to dissolve in seawater.

As expected, in the highest CO2 used, the shells of some species, such as conchs—large, sturdy Caribbean snails—noticeably deteriorated. The spines of tropical pencil urchins dissolved away to nubs. And clams, oysters, and scallops built less and less shell as CO2 levels increased.

However, two species of calcifying algae actually did better at 600 ppm (predicted for the year 2100) than at present-day CO2 levels, but then they fared worse again at even higher CO2 levels. Temperate (cool-water) sea urchins, unlike their tropical relatives, grew best at 900 ppm, as did a temperate limpet.

Crustaceans provided the biggest surprise. All three species tested—the blue crab, American lobster, and a large prawn—defied expectations and grew heavier shells as CO2 swelled to higher level

Evidently the point at which ocean acidification becomes a problem is still some way off even if we assume that atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase at the present rate.

That assumption is not justified. Atmospheric CO2 concentration has varied widely in the past even before the present industrial era. Like global average temperature, CO2 variations are fundamentally random in character and largely unrelated to human activity.

It appears then that the Ocean Acidification threat is all part of the same moral panic as Climate Change.