Yes, I know calling climate change Deniers “Flat Earthers1” is usually used as a epithet to describe those who brainlessly dismiss the obvious facts, such as in “Sir Nicholas Stern: Climate change deniers are ‘flat-earthers’.”
However, what I mean is that the climate change Deniers literally are Flat Earthers; bear with me please.
Consider two of the Deniers favourite memes:
1) Climate change ended in 1998 (or 2001)
2) It was (record) cold today in ______, that proves climate change isn’t happening.
Never mind that both have been repeatedly shown to be idiotic nonsense2.
But let’s pause for a moment, exactly what are they saying with these memes? By this I mean, what kind of world would it have to be for the Denier expectations to be true?
We know perfectly well that neither a cold period following a record hot year, particularly the recent records, nor extreme cold here and there from time to time, mean anything in terms of understanding climate.
These are normal variations in weather. Weather always has and always will vary around some mean (average) temperature. What tells us about climate change is the long term change in the average, not the short term variation. That is why it is necessary to use a 30 run of data to detect climate trends:
otherwise all you are looking at is short term fluctuations in weather.
So what the Deniers are saying is that they expect there to be no short term variation in temperature, just longer term average temperature trends over time and from place to place. To understand how there could possibly be no variation in temperature, we have to understand what causes the variation in the first place. (This will necessarily be a simplistic treatment, see the references below for more on this topic)3
At the risk of stating the obvious, local variations in temperature are caused by variations in weather, which in turn are caused by variations in other factors.
We start with the variations in the radiant energy coming from the
Sun. This varies due to various factors such as sunspot cycles (short term), changes in the earths orbit (longer term), changes as the sun itself ages (very long term) (see Milankovitch cycles and Solar variation.)
We then experience variation in the amount of energy striking a particular place on Earth due the angle the surface presents to the Sun This naturally leads to temperature differences throughout the day, and of course between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The former cycle has a 24 hour periodicity, the latter is annual.
The amount of heat energy reaching the Earth’s surface also depends on cloud cover and particulate load in the atmosphere, which naturally varies.
How much heat energy is absorbed by the Earth’s surface depends on variations in surface colour, with dark surfaces such as water and conifer forests absorbing a great deal, while light surfaces such as ice and sand absorb much less.
So now we have temperature differences between the equator and the poles, between the hemispheres, between the ocean and land, between the day and night sides of the earth … considerable variation indeed, but we’ve barely begun.
These temperature differences create air and ocean current circulation patterns.
In the case of the equatorial : poles differential the dominant circulation pattern are the Hadley Cells.
But of course the equatorial zone is not a uniform temperature for the reasons mention above, so the air pressure varies from place to place. How and where the air masses move is also affected by geography, such as mountain ranges, the temperature of the surface it is moving over, other significant air mass movement, etc.
As such rather than regular, identical bands of air movement, the Hadley Cells are hardly uniform, although they still form a crude band around the Earth.
Of course it is not just moving air masses that affect our weather. Deep ocean cycles will also interact with the air masses, and the oceans hold much more heat energy than the atmosphere.
Let’s not forget, marine environments also experience “weather”, although it is generally more damped (even) than terrestrial weather.
Now we have air masses moving between high and low pressure areas, but just how and where they move is affected by local geography and surface temperature, the movement of other air masses, etc.
Now periodically throw in confounding, semi-random events such as large volcano eruptions which put considerable particulates in the air, or changes in the composition of the atmosphere by adding large quantities of Green House Gases such as methane. These events will throw the “normal” complex system off of whatever equilibrium it may have been tending towards, and create what can seem to be chaos (ie considerable variation).
The result is that a particular region will have a reasonably predictable climate, be it hot or cold, wet or dry, but weather that can seem to be unpredictable. That variability is the predictable consequence of variation in a complex system.
Of course with climate change we know that the Earth does not experience the warming uniformly. This scrambles everything as major air masses flow somewhat differently, which in turn causes a cascade of consequences (ie variation) all through the system.
To return to the climate change Deniers and their memes. How could we get the kind of events which they claim should be happening as a result of climate change? ie i) uniform incremental warming over time such that there is no year to year variation, and ii) uniform and equal warming experienced everwhere at the same time so that nowhere experiences unusual cold relative to it’s norm.
Simple, the only way to have no variation in the weather is to have no variation in the system. As Deniers understand the world, at least based on their predictions of how climate change would occur, everything must be homogenous and uniform.
For the Denier World to be true there cannot be any variation in the amount of heat energy reaching the earths surface, ie no clouds, and no differences in the angle that the suns rays strike the earth, ie no curvature to the Earth. That is to say, the Earth cannot be round. In fact it must be a plane; perfectly flat, and exactly perpendicular to the Sun.
Of course there can be no variation in topography as that would confound the system and violate the Denier expectations of uniform weather, so Denier World also cannot have any mountains or valleys, no ocean trenches … indeed no oceans at all.
Not only that, but there cannot be any differences in how much heat energy is absorbed from one place to another,so there can be no differences in colour. Denier World is a flat, featureless monochrome.
In fact the only way the Denier hypothesis could be true is if the Earth were essentially like a large piece of paper.
We do not know whether Deniers believe that Denier World orbits the Sun, or if they think the Sun orbits the Earth. We also do not know what colour they think Denier World is, merely that it monochromatic.
Nor have I seen any Denier explanations on how they understand those things which the rest of us perceive of as mountains, oceans, forests, ice caps and the like.
Most particularly we have no idea how Denier science understands “normal” variation in weather (eg pre 1900) from year to year and place to place, as clearly these could not possibly occur on Denier World.
All we know is that to be true, the Denier hypotheses of how climate change would occur requires that the Earth must be flat; flat in shape, with a flat surface and a flat (ie single) colour. Then, and only then would we get the uniform, steady warming which the Deniers claim we should expect.
And like all the rest of Denier “science”, it is total raving idiocy.
But of course, like all of the rest of Denier “science”, none of them ever thinks through their claims. These fables are not put forward as actual legitimate hypotheses. That they are mind bogglingly stupid is of no consequence.
The Denier’s purpose has been achieved as long as a Robert Carter or Philip Stott will repeat the fable, a George Will or Christopher Booker who will publish the stupidities in the Financial Post or The Australian, and an Anthony Watts or Steven Milloy will stick it on their web site.
Then legions of gullible rubes are told that they are critical thinking “skeptics” if they believe it without seeing any evidence or thinking logically. Their mindless faith does not merely move mountains, it makes mountains disappear entirely and flattens planets.
The World’s lakes are freezing an average of 5.8 days later in the fall and thawing 6.5 days earlier in the spring than they were at the beginning of the 20th century. Earth Gauge
We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.
Denier “Challenge” aka Deathwatch Update: Day 260 … still no evidence.
- “Flat Earthers” refer to those who believe that the Earth is not a sphere, but a flat plane Flat Earth
- In the West the educated classes have believed that the Earth is round since the Ancient Greeks Myth of the Flat Earth
- There are modern Flat Earthers, but I am not suggesting climate change Deniers are necessarily members of these groups
- Apparently there is/was a “Flat Earth Award” for Deniers
Myth “Global Cooling”: aka “Climate change stopped in _____”
Myth: “It’s cold. So there’s no Climate Change”: Debunking the “It was cold in ….” Fable
Fable: ‘It’s cold today in Wagga Wagga’ therefor …
- Weather – Wikipedia
- Geography 101
- Introduction to Climatology (free to register)
- Natural Variability and Climate Sensitivity
- Warming, interrupted: Much ado about natural variability
- Warming, Interrupted?
Comments that are not relevant to the post that they appear under or the evolving discussion will simply be deleted, as will links to Denier spam known to be scientific gibberish
The Open Thread is for general climate discussion, however the spam rules still apply.