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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Speaking of the Economic Weather Report

There is no question that bad winters are not helping the US economy. Admittedly, there are other problems, such as public debt at the state and local level. You simply cannot integrate a model with growing economies, constrained household incomes, and an ever-growing state and local tax burden. Something's got to give, and it is going to be real growth. 

But as a sideline, and perhaps a gentle hint not to buy farmland too far north, I thought I'd look at a little bit of the climate data. I have remained a spectator in the carbon wars, watching with increasing fascination as the real world situation ameliorated and the human angst-o-sphere heated up to compensate. Now that we have the Pope piling in, I suspect that has reached its natural peak, unless the Chief Rabbi is waiting in the wings. 

In the real world, colder northern winter temps will have an effect, and the angst-o-sphere will not compensate.

First, from the really excellent site WoodForTrees.org, a look at what happened when China dumped a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere:

We have here the RSS lower troposphere temp data series. The benefit is that it is very, very accurate. The downside is that it is of short duration, though lengthening every year. We have a few trend lines - since 1998 it's obvious that it has been getting colder. Since 1995 (nearly 20 years!) the trend line is about flat, which surely means something.

We also have the monthly sunspots on a 20 year average, which I long ago figured out was the best predictor represented this way. (Note that this program charts means at the center point, so that is why the curve is shifted left on the graph.) And then we have the sharp upward trend of Mauna Loa CO2. One suspects that is not controlling global temperatures much. 

It is evident that something changed in the late 1990s. The CO2 keeps going up and up, but it isn't driving temps up. There is a suspicious hint that solar activity is. That trend shifts, and lo and behold, so does the troposphere trend.

Yes, yes, I have read all that stuff about the heat hiding in the oceans. Really? One day the heat just looked up into the sky and screamed "OMG - Where are the sunspots?",and the heat dove deep into the ocean to hide from the implacable, frowning face of its solar master like Godzilla when the Japanese planes get too close? Nah. Not even a plausible fairy tale.

Solar activity does vary a lot over time, and it does seem to correlate with temps as observed, although it's well to note that in the past land temperature measurements were biased toward the northern hemisphere (and they still are today) and that they will be a lot less accurate than satellite data. So mentally stick in some large error bars:
Here we have HADCRUT3, which is a much longer running temp series, with AMO (the northern oscillation) and sunspots. Normalized and 10 year means. I'm not trying to pull tricks here.

As you can see, the historical record is that solar activity does vary a lot over time. There has seemed to be a correlation with climate. I added AMO, because I suspect part of the northern climate transition is driven by AMO, and that solar activity drives AMO

Note that I don't claim that CO2 has no effect on temperatures - I suspect that it does, but only a very weak one, and in part that effect is offset by changes in the distribution of water vapor in the atmosphere (a negative feedback rather than the theorized positive feedback).

I also suspect that the jagged AMO ridges when AMO is in transition are correlated with US dustbowls, which makes me a bit nervous.

This is pretty much the same thing, but I added in PDO (Pacific oscillation). Why? Just in case you wanted it. I think the ocean current shifts distribute the heat, but I think they may be largely influenced by solar shifts.

A look at my theorized system during the time frame that we have concurrent data:
I think AMO loops within its own bounds, which is a natural regulator of solar changes. But the point is that AMO does seem to influence northern weather, which has several implications. For one, steeper roofs in Boston would be wise. For another, this cycle has only just begun, so I wouldn't expect these last winters to be flukes. I would expect the coming US northern climate to be far more akin to that of the tales told by my parents and grandparents when I was young. Winters used to be colder, they would say, and you know, they were right.

Last, a look at the above with a five year mean, just so you know I am not cheating:

One of the interesting things lost in the angst-o-sphere has been the remarkable similarity in the temperature sequence between the 1900-1940 shift and the late 1970s-2000 shift. I have a LOT of trouble accepting CO2 as a strong driver, especially since these shifts are, historically speaking, piddling. Picayune. Petty. Pipsqueaks:

I crack up when I read or hear stuff about how the melting Arctic is going to hand us Tatooine. Been there, done that. If in the climactic optimum the methane didn't fry us, it is not going to fry us now. 

The Hans Tausen Iskappe in Greenland completely melted during the climactic optimum. It has formed since it started getting colder.

What we have to worry about in the near term are northern climate conditions that may be a little harsh, and will have an effect over the longer term on economic growth.

Well done.

Fyi, man-made co2 has doubled since 1997 and temps are flat.

This is dispositive. End of story.


Only 6% of global co2 is man-made.

Co2phobia was invented by the left to get govt leverage over the economy.


As far as I'm concerned the whole thing went tits up when the East Anglia model got leaked to the public. For the first time I was able to actually look at the math they were using.

The models aren't anything fancy. They're just using plain-jane 3-D finite element analysis to simulate heat transfer throughout the atmosphere. The problem is that they are using non-constant, non-sinusoidal forcing functions (for example, monotonically increasing CO2 concentration). You can't do that. The math blows up and you end up needing an arbitrary constant for each state in the differential equations.

In other words, it all boils down to linear equations full of fudge factors. And the fudge factors will need to change whenever the state variables change significantly. The models are marginally acceptable for representing steady-state behavior, but the one thing they are completely incapable of doing is...wait for it...predicting radical change in the system!

And the thing is, there's no possible way you can write those equations and fool yourself into thinking they're predictive. You have to go through the thought process of understanding that just to be able to build the models. These "scientists" wrote the equations, understood their limitations, and then told everybody that they had a model that predicted radical change.

To put it more succinctly, the math demonstrates that they're liars.

Yes, it does, Neil.

But start talking to the average person about equations and you will generate audience coma, whereas actual temperature measurements are a vivid reality.

But hey, after the Pope got into it, I guess it clarified matters. Catastrophic AGW is now officially religious dogma!!!

It darned sure isn't science.
Reliapundit - I think CO2 CAGW was originally a decent hypothesis. The trouble is that in the real world it doesn't work that way.

Remember, the original idea dates back well before modern politics, and there was science behind it.

Yet it is true that it has been seized upon in modern times to justify a host of self-dealing.

CAGW survives not because there is real world evidence, but because it helped various third-world countries economically, because it justifies large-scale tax increases, because it generates streams of revenue for scientists, because it justifies social control legislation, because it provides streams of funding for many, many companies, etc.

But finally, this is now an embarrassment for the original theorists, so it is the Truth That Cannot Be Told.

Arctic ice was growing in the 70's.

This "bad winter" meme is a bunch a garbage; if the economy is so fragile that a spell of bad weather spells doom then the economy is a sham of price non-discovery to begin with. used to be we'd "save for a rainy day" but nowadays the Fed and Paul Krugman have conniption fits over such savings gluts.

And that's why I not only am not concerned about a recession, I'm rooting for one. Price discovery for the win!


It's true. Try as I might, I cannot figure out how to make the limitations of 3D FEA interesting to anyone who has never written their own FEA routine. But it's the undeniable smoking gun.

If I were even a marginal artist, I might be able to turn it into a comic book!

But really, it doesn't matter anymore. What's important is the 10000-year downtrend in your last plot, and what we know we can expect after 10000 years of warm.

Charles, but bad winters make a bunch of people save more.

This one, because of the fuel drop, didn't knock people around as badly as the last.

But realistically, people save over the year for their anticipated expenses, and if they start getting worried about not being able to cover those expenses, they save more.

That is not irrational - it is, as you point out, a prerequisite for healthy sustained growth.

Add to that the effect of expanded copays and deductibles under ACA changes, and consumers have a very rational reason to try to keep more cash around.

If consumers don't do that, then of course the economy is set up for worse later.

And yes, WE ARE SKATING ON THIN ECONOMIC ICE. We literally are oscillating around the historical recession parameters, and we have been doing so for years now.
Thank you for using the scientific method with the ever more important and rare "scientific integrity"

For those who do not understand my comment please refer to Richard Feyman's
"Cargo Cult of Science" speech. Substitute MMGW where necessary.
Very good post.
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