Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #520 – Watts Up With That?

The Week That Was: 2022-09-17 (September 17, 2022)
Brought to You by SEPP (
The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Before you make a case a general rule, test it two or three times and observe whether all experiments produce identical results.” – Leonardo da Vinci.

Number of the Week: Less than 0.2°C, 0.4°F


By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

Scope: CLINTEL published an interview with William van Wijngaarden of York University giving further insights on the greenhouse effect, among other issues. Van Wijngaarden has authored several important papers with William Happer on the warming effects of major greenhouse gases including methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor, the most important greenhouse gas. Their papers in 2022 are “2n-Stream Radiative Transfer” (June), employing a new method to solve the radiative transfer phenomena and “2n-Stream Conservative Scattering” (July), which uses the matrix methods of quantum mechanics to calculate the radiative transfer in clouds. This may lead to an understanding of the formation and dispersion of clouds, an important unknown in the influence of the greenhouse effect on earth’s temperatures. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its followers largely ignore spectroscopy, the branch of physics dealing with the detection of electromagnetic radiation from atoms. Thus, it is doubtful these papers will receive the attention they deserve. Discussed below is some of the current thinking by van Wijngaarden.

Also discussed is William Kininmonth’s report on the Greenhouse Effect. He was the head of Australia’s National Climate Centre before it lost its way. Kininmonth uses the MODTRAN computer program to demonstrate that the contribution of carbon dioxides to the greenhouse effect is minimal. He discusses the importance of energy flow by ocean currents.

Craig Idso has an essay on the benefits of carbon dioxide and what may become the remarkably high costs of carbon taxes.

The twenty-seventh Conference of Parties (COP-27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is fast approaching and the baseless drumbeat that a binding agreement controlling emissions of carbon dioxide by Western Countries must be signed has begun. One focus is how cheap electricity will become with wind, solar, and hydrogen storage. The study comes from Oxford University’s Institute for New Economic Thinking – and can be best described as “build a mathematical model and the physical reality obeying it will magically appear! Comments on this new form of thinking are presented.

Meteorologist Cliff Mass has an essay demonstrating that the smoke from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest is hardly unprecedented, as claimed in many reports.


No Dangerous Warming: William van Wijngaarden was interviewed by Jan van Friesland of CLINTEL. Below is an edited version of some of the questions and responses (in italics) with boldface added.

“We know CO2 absorbs radiation. Can you explain what CO2 absorption is, precisely, and why this absorption is responsible for warming the atmosphere?”

“It is important to first understand that all objects radiate energy known as Black Body Radiation, which increases very rapidly with the absolute temperature. The absolute and Celsius temperatures are related by T(Kelvin) = T(C) + 273. Hence, 0 C corresponds to 273 Kelvins. This means that a hot object like the sun radiates orders of magnitude more energy than an object such as the Earth. The energy is radiated across a spectrum of wavelengths. For the sun with a surface temperature of about 6000 Kelvins, the peak radiation occurs at visible wavelengths. For the Earth with an average surface temperature of 15 C or 288 K, the radiation is in the infrared and has maximum intensity close to the frequency (667 cm‑1 or 15 mm) where CO2 strongly absorbs.”

The CO2 molecule is a linear molecule where an oxygen atom is on either side of the carbon atom. When the CO2 absorbs infrared light at 667 cm-1, it vibrates such that it bends, i.e., the Oxygen atoms flop up and down relative to the carbon atom.  In addition, the CO2 molecule like other atmospheric molecules such as O2, N2 etc. moves about at speeds of hundreds of meters per second. Collisions occur very frequently resulting in internal energy of the molecule being transferred to translational motion. Temperature can be thought of as a measure of the translational energy.

“Why doesn’t CO2 absorb more and as a result causes very little warming?”

“The Earth’s atmosphere already has a lot of CO2 which causes the absorption at 667 cm-1 to be saturated. Doubling CO2 from 400 to 800 ppm will increase the temperature by about 1 C. Saturation means the temperature increase depends on the logarithm of the CO2 concentration change. To get an additional 1 C warming, CO2 would need to double again from 800 to 1600 ppm. At the present rate of increase of 2 ppm/year, it would take about 2 centuries to double CO2 to 800 ppm.”

“How about the feedback of CO2 – water vapor? Mainstream models estimate a very high positive feedback. Is that exaggerated estimation not responsible for the catastrophic predictions about global warming?”

Doubling CO2 is predicted to increase the surface temperature by nearly 1 C. This amount is something that is quite well understood, and we have confirmed it in our calculations. Warmer air can contain more water vapor (something Chemists call the Clausius Clapeyron equation). That is obvious because large amounts of precipitation occur only when it is hot and humid. Similarly, large snowfalls occur when the temperature is near the freezing point, not when it is extremely cold.

Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas. The reason is that it absorbs radiation at many more wavelengths than CO2 and the atmosphere contains nearly 100 times more H2O than CO2 molecules. Without water vapor, the Earth would be covered in ice and life would not be possible. The question is, how will atmospheric water vapor change if there is a small temperature increase caused by CO2 doubling. This is known as the water feedback effect and is difficult to estimate. The amplification of the 1 C warming generated by doubling CO2 range from none for the case of no change in atmospheric H2O to about 60% if one assumes that relative humidity will not change. When faced with different theoretical predictions, one needs to observe the atmosphere. Observations made using high altitude balloons and satellites do not show significant increase in water vapor over the past 50 years.

The preceding discussion refers to water vapor not CLOUDS. One can ask if more atmospheric water vapor, will produce more clouds, thicker clouds, higher level Cirrus as opposed to lower-level Cumulus clouds. Clouds definitely affect temperature. During the day, temperatures decrease when a cloud blocks the sun whereas at night clouds warm the surface. Everyone realizes that clouds are critical to what will happen to the climate. Unfortunately, our understanding of this subject is in its infancy.

“Why is the role of oceans important to understand climate?”

“A liquid such as water has a much higher density than air and can therefore absorb much more thermal energy which is transported by ocean currents. The most well-known is the Gulf Stream that transports warm water from the Gulf of Mexico to northern Europe. This is the reason why countries such as Nederland [Netherlands] experience a much warmer climate than areas at similar latitude such as Labrador.

“Sea surface ocean temperatures vary in time. One of the best known is the so called El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) which describes a change of the sea surface temperature in the southern Pacific. Sometimes a deep pool of warm water near Australia spreads out towards South America. This in turn warms the air leading to significant precipitation changes along the west coast of North and South America. Unfortunately, predicting ENSO as well as other oscillations such as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is not possible. These temperature variations have been known for centuries. In the case of the NAO, the Vikings knew that relatively cold European winters corresponded to warmer winters in Greenland/Iceland and vice versa.”

“In your book “Is Global Warming Hot Air?” you write that many climate scientists don’t question the correctness of climate models themselves. Why do they take it for granted that models always do function well?”

It is unfortunate that many climate researchers do not question the climate models especially when the observations conflict with predictions. One of the best-known failures was that the average global temperature stopped increasing after 2000 which is called the hiatus. Constructing a global climate model necessitates estimating a myriad of parameters. Science has always progressed by comparing theory to observation. If the theory is wrong, it must be refined. I do not question the sincerity of the modelers, but an accurate climate model is very challenging.

After discussing topics such as plants grow faster with increasing CO2, van Wijngaarden concludes with:

“One has to be patient and politely point out how the observations support/differ from climate models. The worst thing for the climate fanatics would be if governments implement their espoused policies. Once, people see oil and natural gas taxes spiral upwards, they will rebel. The taxes will be decreased, and the regulations delayed.

Like most people, I want to protect and improve our environment. I am also very supportive of energy conservation and expanding research. Unfortunately, developing a better battery has proved to be a difficult undertaking even after a century of effort. Similarly, a better understanding of the climate using more extensive satellite monitoring as well as land and ocean measurements should be a very high international priority.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy, the June and July papers contain advanced mathematics.


Ocean Currents: In “Rethinking The Greenhouse Effect” William Kininmonth uses the MODerate resolution atmospheric TRANsmission (MODTRAN) computer program to demonstrate that ocean currents are especially important in the flow of heat energy and increasing CO2 is not particularly important. MODTRAN is designed to model atmospheric propagation of electromagnetic radiation and has been in wide use for decades. MODTRAN is not as precise as the HITRAN database used by van Wijngaarden and Happer. Although they use different databases and different approaches, the thinking of all these researchers appears to be aligned. Additional carbon dioxide will not cause dangerous global warming and climate modelers have failed to understand the complexity of variation internal to the earth’s climate system. The preface to the report states:

“The pattern of recent global warming underscores the validity of what meteorologists widely recognized: the oceans are the vital inertial and thermal flywheels of the climate system. The corollary is, if one wants to control climate, it will be necessary to control the oceans. Efforts to decarbonize in the hope of affecting global temperatures will be in vain.’

According to Kininmonth:

“The temperature of the warm ocean is affected by four energy flows:

• absorption of shortwave radiation direct from the sun

• absorption of longwave radiation from greenhouse gases in the atmosphere [It is often said that increasing infrared radiation from the sky to the surface is causing heat to be stored deep in the ocean, but longwave radiation penetrates less than a millimeter.]

• loss of heat and latent energy to the atmosphere

• loss of heat via ocean currents.”

What is important, is the heat loss from the tropics.

“Over the tropics, the heat and latent energy from the ocean surface remains in the lowest layer of the atmosphere below the clouds, and the trade winds draw it into the Equatorial Trough – a narrow band of latitudes close to the equator (the Doldrums, in common parlance). As the heat builds up in this region, deep convection clouds form and it is these that transport heat upwards into higher layers of the atmosphere, where the winds distribute the heat poleward.

The transport of heat upwards through this deep convection process creates a tight link between the temperature of the tropical atmosphere and that of the ocean surface below. Figure 2 [not included here] shows the coherence of the atmosphere and ocean surface temperatures. The correlation between the detrended records is 0.86, albeit with a one- to two-month delay in the atmosphere’s response.

The temperatures in both records change markedly from year to year – at times by up to 1°C. These changes are associated with changes in the ocean circulation associated with the El Niño and La Niña events. Superimposed on this short-term variability, there have been long-term warming trends of about 0.1°C per decade in both records. The effect of the warming is two-fold:

• the increased warmth in the tropical atmosphere is a source of additional energy and increases the rate of heat transport to higher latitudes.

• the warmer oceans increase the flow of latent energy to the atmosphere.

The latent energy is not immediately apparent but will be seen in the warming at higher latitudes.”

He then discusses Arctic warming before concluding:

“The characteristics of recent climate change and its cause are clear. The tropical oceans have warmed, not as a result of additional atmospheric carbon dioxide but most likely because of a reduction in the transport of heat, as ocean currents slow. The warmer tropical oceans have raised the temperature of the tropical atmosphere in turn, in particular through the medium of deep equatorial convection clouds. Additional energy flowing from the warmer tropical oceans has been transported by the winds to enhance polar warming, especially in the winter months.

“Put another way, recent warming is probably simply the result of a fluctuation in the ever-changing ocean circulation; carbon dioxide must be recognized as a very minor contributor to the observed warming and one that is unlikely to prolong the warming trend beyond the peak generated by the natural oceanic oscillations.

“There has been much speculation that the recent warming trend will generate extreme weather events dangerous to humankind. The evidence is not compelling. The greatest warming has been over high northern latitudes, when temperatures are well below freezing. It will therefore be unlikely to have any appreciable impact on flora or fauna. Notwithstanding this, the impacts of both short- and medium-term shifts in natural oscillations, such as El Niño and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, will continue, and adequate preparedness remain essential.”  These comments are followed by the quotation cited above. See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Cost of CO2 Removal: Craig Idso addresses an issue few people ever thought about. What would be the costs to society of removing CO2 from the atmosphere? He addresses the costs through carbon dioxide taxation resulting in higher energy prices. Idso states:

“Consequently, any commodity or product downstream of energy production will be impacted by higher costs—ergo we have at least one significant downside to enacting CO2 emission reduction schemes.

“Nowhere is this more evident than in the agricultural sector of the economy, which relies on low-cost energy to produce food and other products necessary to sustaining life on the planet. As the costs to produce agricultural products increase, those costs are passed on to the consumer, thereby reducing disposable household income, which reduction also disproportionately burdens the poor.”

He goes through several carbon dioxide pricing schemes showing that the costs can be severe. This type of thinking is sorely lacking in what government planners call “cost-benefit” studies. See link under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Economic Fantasies: COP-27 will start on November 6, 2022, in the resort town Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. No doubt many wealthy people will show their concern for the poor by arriving in their expensive, diesel-powered yachts. Already we are seeing questionable studies on the evils of carbon dioxide, so needed for life on this planet. Perhaps the most absurd one so far is from the Oxford University Institute for New Economic Thinking claiming that the costs of wind and solar power and use of hydrogen for storage of electricity are plunging.

Henry Ford greatly reduced the cost of automobiles and improved the quality by using standardized parts and assembly-line production. All too frequently, economists claim similar reductions will occur by expanding production without determining if standardization and more efficient assembly-lines are possible. So, it appears with the Institute for New Economic Thinking in “Empirically grounded technology forecasts and the energy transition.”

Assembly lines for the production of wind turbines exist. But each site requires site-specific construction. Worse, wind turbines require the rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium, terbium and as well as cobalt. Rare earths are so named not necessarily because they are rare, but because they are not found in concentrations such as iron and copper are. Extracting them requires tremendous earth moving and it is doubtful that assembly-line conditions can be successfully applied. Already, the costs of rare earths are increasing, not falling.

Approximately 70% of Cobalt comes from the Congo, under child-labor working conditions that were banned in Victorian Era UK. Contrary to the Institute for New Economic Thinking there is no reason to assume the costs of wind turbines will fall greatly. Any estimate of the cost of hydrogen storage of electricity is pure guesswork.

Andrew Montford, Paul Homewood, and Francis Menton have further comments on these “empirically grounded forecasts.” See links under Defending the Orthodoxy and Questioning the Orthodoxy.


Twain Agrees: Meteorologist Cliff Mass has an amusing story about Mark Twain and his visit to Olympia, Washington, in 1895, which was engulfed in thick smoke when Twain was there to give a speech. There is nothing new about smoke generated by wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. What is new is a “let it burn” policy which has taken over from a policy of fire suppression that lasted about 50 years. See link under Changing Weather.


Virginia Energy Plan, 2022: On behalf of SEPP, long time resident of Virginia Ken Haapala submitted comments on the new Virginia Energy Plan. The comments include:

“Virginia’s 2018 energy plan was aligned with the California’s net-zero plan. Indeed, legislation was passed stating that Virginia would follow the appointed bureaucrats of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in the sale of new automobiles. CARB has banned the sale of new gasoline powered automobiles by 2035 with the phase out beginning in 2026. This is a total abrogation of legislative responsibility of Virginia government to out-of-state bureaucrats with no accountability to the citizens of Virginia.”

Worse, the 2020 Virginia Clean Economy Act requires the state to replace all fossil fuel generated electricity with renewable energy by 2045. The legislature and the governor had no understanding of what is required to replace fossil fuels and the cost of such action.

Many Virginia politicians talk of high-tech manufacturing such as computer chips. Computer chip manufacturing requires 100% reliable electricity within very tight tolerances for 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the complexity of the chip. A slight hic-up and the entire production line (one to two months of product) is lost. Wind and solar cannot provide reliable electricity.

The comments conclude:

“There is no demonstration that wind, solar, and storage can deliver the reliable and affordable electricity within tight tolerances civilization needs. Continuing to assume they do is a waste of resources.

“There is no energy crisis and no climate crisis. The models use to declare a climate crisis are highly flawed and unfit for predictions.

“Virginia Energy Plan, 2022 is a solid replacement for Virginia Energy Plan, 2018 which contained multiple false beliefs. It benefits the citizens of Virginia with realistic critical thinking rather than dreams.”

As of yet, the full comments have not been posted on the government website but should be within a few days:


Number of the Week: Less than 0.2°C, 0.4°F: In the chapter “Pit Vipers”of Snakes – a natural history for the British Museum (Natural History) there is a discussion on the precision of pit vipers using sensitive senses in their pits. The discussion includes the following sentence:

“Experiments have shown that pit vipers, deprived of their senses of sight and smell, can strike accurately at moving objects that are less than 0.2°C warmer than their surroundings.”

According to research on ocean sediments, in the over 20 million years since pit vipers evolved, the earth’s atmosphere has had CO2 concentrations up to 800 parts per million, which is twice that of today. Yet pit vipers have thrived despite the great variations in CO2 because have long taken advantage of the “atmospheric window” where greenhouse gases do not influence the loss of surface heat, infrared radiation, to space. Yet, climate alarmists do not recognize the “atmospheric window.” See links under Changing Seas and Other News that May Be of Interest.

Commentary: Is the Sun Rising?

Refutation of the Forgotten-Sunshine Theory

By Joe Born, WUWT, Sep 12, 2022

Rebuttal: Climate F-Words

By Roy Spencer, His Blog, Mar 22, 2028

Spencer’s rebuttal concludes: “But nowhere does the sensitivity of modern 3D climate models depend upon any feedback equations.

“Now, if I have misrepresented Lord Monckton’s argument, I apologize. But I am having difficulty determining exactly what his argument is, and how it affects the processes specified in climate models. Maybe someone can help me. We can agree that the models are too sensitive, but we must make sure our arguments for their excessive sensitivity make sense, or we will continue to be dismissed out of hand by the mainstream climate community.”

Challenging the Orthodoxy — NIPCC

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2013


Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts

Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2014


Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels

By Multiple Authors, Bezdek, Idso, Legates, and Singer eds., Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, April 2019

Download with no charge:

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Nov 23, 2015

Download with no charge:

Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008

Global Sea-Level Rise: An Evaluation of the Data

By Craig D. Idso, David Legates, and S. Fred Singer, Heartland Policy Brief, May 20, 2019

Challenging the Orthodoxy

Interview with William van Wijngaarden

By Jan van Friesland,, Accessed Sep 7, 2022

2n-Stream Radiative Transfer

W. A. van Wijngaarden &  W. Happer, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics, June 1, 2022

Rethinking The Greenhouse Effect

By Paul Homewood, Not a Lot of People Know That, Sep 16, 2022

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