‘Armageddon Summer’ is just the beginning—but Dyer’s the living end

This post is based on an article I wrote in the Otago Daily Times that answers a bunch of balderdash by Gwynne Dyer about global warming: ‘Armageddon Summer’ is just the beginning (pdf, 134 KB). SNAPPY MOTTO: Defeat drivel, bury baloney. – RT

MULTIPLE LINES of evidence show that Gwynne Dyer is dead wrong (in ‘Armageddon Summer’ is just the beginning, 3/8/18) about the cataclysms he claims will be caused by our continued use of hydrocarbon fuels.

The very title tells us that what he calls ‘Armageddon’ is the beginning—therefore it cannot be Armageddon, which means the end.

There is robust scientific evidence, easily found with a bit of research, that nothing so far in the observational record shows a significant human influence on climate, nor any sign that our puny emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have more than a mild effect on temperature. Our emissions may mildly warm the climate, but catastrophes not caused by warming are not our doing.

That excludes wildfires (usually started by lightning, accident or arson), heatwaves (caused by static weather systems that allow heat to build up in a region) and torrential downpours (which occur in all seasons). We can exclude Biblical floods (which occurred long ago) and ordinary floods (the IPCC says it’s impossible to call humanity responsible). We can also disregard what Dyer refers to as the ‘mounting misery of the next 20 years’ and the ‘highway to Hell’—we don’t know what he’s talking about but he’s certainly a merchant of doom.

Dyer doesn’t mention sea level rise in this article, which is probably sensible, because science knows of no mechanism whereby our airborne emissions of CO2 can significantly heat the ocean: it’s impossible. Since there’s been virtually no warming in the last 20 years, warming hasn’t been a factor in recent sea level rise. The IPCC reports some human contribution to sea level rise in other periods, but it’s trivial contributions to melting ice.

What does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that cutting our use of petrol will have no effect on sea level rise (Mother Nature’s doing all that by herself).

It’s hard to embrace Dr Denis Bushnell’s desperate speculation about the development of anoxic oceans (actually, even Dyer admits it’s not likely, so why does he mention them?). Apparently Dr Bushnell says there will be considerable “feedbacks” of warming, including “melting permafrost, warming oceans, huge releases of methane and carbon dioxide” (though only releases of methane and CO2 can produce feedbacks—melting and warming are what warming does—he seems confused).

So Bushnell predicted warming of 6°C–12°C by 2100, more than forecast by the IPCC and most climate scientists. But temperatures have been that high or higher for about 500 million of the last 600 million years. So we need not fear those temperatures, we’ll be fine just dealing with them.

After the most egregious scare-mongering, Dyer admits: “there hasn’t been a Canfield event in the past 200 million years.” But research shows that for fully half that time, the temperature was around 8°C higher than today, when he’s predicting 6°C–12°C, yet we’ve seen no anoxic oceans. So again, there’s no cause for anxiety.

Gwynne Dyer thinks he’s justified in trying to frighten us, that we’re heading for “a mass die-back” of all creatures and mass starvation is “imaginable”. He calls this a high-stakes game — he’s just letting us know what the stakes are.

But this is a cheap deception: he fabricates a wild and diverting tale with no truth in it.

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Simon
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Simon

Anoxic ocean events are already occurring but a Canfield ocean seems unlikely unless we push the temperature well past 10°C. Your argument is however ruined by nonsense repetition of the following falsehoods:
1. Nothing so far in the observational record shows a significant human influence on climate.
2. Science knows of no mechanism whereby our airborne emissions of CO2 can significantly heat the ocean.
3. There’s been virtually no warming in the last 20 years.
You also neglect to mention that humans have never lived on a planet that was 6°C–12°C warmer than now and that the current rate of warming in unprecedented in the paleo-climatic record.

Alexander k
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Alexander k

Good on yer Simon, leaping in to put your other foot in your mouth. I thought the article to be very even-handed and sensible, but you obviously have a personal stake in the Alarmist narrative.

KillerBean
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KillerBean

Simon.

No2: That says heat from the sun warms the oceans, the oceans then pass the heat to land via rain. So how does CO2 warm the oceans.

Simon
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Simon

It also says: “When air in contact with the ocean is at a different temperature than the sea surface, heat transfer by conduction takes place. “
Conduction, convection, and radiation. All three apply in this case. The proof is that ocean temperatures are rising. https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-sea-surface-temperature

Simon
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Simon

Also note that oceans retain more heat when the atmosphere is warmer. Think about how the ENSO mechanism works.

Simon
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Simon

Maybe you would like to consider why the oceans don’t cool to absolute zero in your mental model.
Why is the ocean heat content increasing? https://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/
Hint: Where is most of the additional heat going from the current global energy imbalance?

The closest analogue we have to the current rate of warming is the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), but that occurred over millennia, not centuries.

Simon
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Simon

You probably need to work this stuff out if you are going to run a climate blog. Penn State have a good paper on climate change: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/meteo469/node/111 It’s post-grad level but you can bypass the math and take it as read.

Simon
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Simon

It’s all in the course Richard. I shouldn’t have to teach you first principles.

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