In his latest article on the IPCC, Ron Barmby quotes international man of central banking, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance and high-flying political saviour in waiting Mark Carney that humanity must learn to live on a carbon budget, that people who aren’t visionary leaders like him tend to be tragically short-sighted, and that “scientists have concluded that the pace of global warming is roughly proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” And when scientists say, who are we to argue? Except that as Barmby points out, this line from p. 265 of Carneys book Value(s) is rubbish. Once again it seems the people saving us from climate change were too busy invoking the science to study it.
We could take aim at the postmodern orthography of the book’s title. Or its vainglorious subtitle “Building a Better World for All”. Apparently just saving Canada and Britain is neither achievement enough nor challenge enough for this Freeman of the City of London, Officer of the Order of Canada, holder of three honorary LL.D degrees and citizenship in three countries who is also a star athlete with an Ozzie and Harriet family except, despite their carbon footprint, with more kids. But never mind.
We actually feel a certain kinship with him and especially his humble origins, since our “Sunburnt Lands Up North” tour inadvertently visited his home town of Fort Smith, NT. But we must take him aside to talk about ECS.
In fact we already have. We did a whole video on it. Which he seems to have missed. So here’s the brief summary: ECS, which stands for Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, is central to the discussion of atmospheric CO2 because what the science actually says is that if CO2 has the warming effects many scientists have believed since Svante Arrhenius’s pioneering work, then as Barmby says “The relationship between global warming to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not linear, it is logarithmic.”
In case you’re not a transcontinental central banker, or even if you are, that statement means that instead of a chart of CO2 and temperature being a straight line, let alone one that bends upward, it curves downward more and more sharply to a slope nearing zero. It’s the exact inverse of the “exponential” curve whose slope rises ever more sharply toward infinity, as you might be inclined to expect from all that chatter about a runaway greenhouse effect. Because the curve is logarithmic instead, whatever effect CO2 has on temperature, it takes more and more of it to get the same impact, not the same amount or less.
There are two crucial numbers here. And the first is two, because the logarithmic function in question says however much temperature goes up in degrees if you multiply the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere by two, you have to double that proportion again to get twice the absolute the temperature rise. If going from 300 to 600 parts per million of CO2 raises temperature two degrees, you need to go not from 600 to 900 but from 600 to 1200 to get a total increase of four degrees.
The other number is how much, empirically, the temperature rises if you double atmospheric CO2. The IPCC has spent a lot of time trying to figure it out and the more they study it the less they know. Which might be because climate alarmism requires it to be high but every model that assumes it is performs even worse than its less hysterical cousins (on which see our coverage elsewhere in today’s newsletter of the latest assessment of how bad climate models have gotten). If ECS were, say, 3.5, then doubling atmospheric CO2 would raise global temperature quite a bit. But if it’s somewhere around one, then we might possibly get a total increase of 2 degrees if we go from pre-industrial 280 ppm to 1120. But the chance of getting to 3, by getting to 2240 ppm of CO2, is vanishingly small. And Carney should know it.
Perhaps math isn’t your thing. But is a central banker’s. Or so you’d hope. Carney shouldn’t need “logarithmic” explained to him. But nor should the UN Special Envoy on Climate need ECS explained to him. And once again, if he doesn’t know that, you wonder what else he doesn’t know. And why he’s condescending to us about our lifestyles which, in any case, do not begin to match his when it comes to glitter, remuneration or um carbon footprint.