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Heaven over Huntsville: Spencer and Denser

Recently in his blog, Alabama rocket-scientist and aspiring creationist Dr Roy Spencer indulged in some more high-quality denial by purporting to demonstrate that there’s no ‘fingerprint’ of anthropogenic global warming. Using a simple climate model he’s built himself, he performed two 50-year runs: one with high climate sensitivity, the other with low sensitivity but gradually decreasing cloud cover (allowing more sunlight in); atmospheric CO2 was doubled in both. The two results showed the same surface temperature increase and the same radiative imbalance. Voila! Obviously, natural changes can’t be distinguished from anthropogenic ones, climate sensitivity could be lower than the consensus-conspiracy, and recent global warming climate change could have been caused by a gradual decrease in global cloudiness (not an increase in solar irradiance, as we’ve discussed before) that’s somehow escaped everybody’s notice.

There are a number of subtle flaws in this argument which, being fellow deniers, we don’t want to highlight here. The main one, however, has already been inadvertently let slip by
Roy himself: while surface temperatures might change in the same way, the stratosphere would cool from greenhouse warming but not from decreased cloudiness. That the stratosphere has cooled has been clearly demonstrated. But is there any other way that the stratosphere might cool? Our friend Baron von Monckhofen over at The Climate Scum has come up with one: an increase in gravity pulling more air atoms closer to the surface, leading to heating at the newly dense low levels and cooling at the newly rarefied high levels. Brilliant!

The Baron attributes this increase in gravity to a global increase in mass, noting that people have been getting fatter. While this is
undoubtedly the case, we think another phenomenon might be more important: people have been becoming more dense. The evidence for this is incontrovertible. Just watch Fox News, read the letters-to-the-editor sections in the Calgary Herald and National Post (and much of the ‘journalism’ in those newspapers), look at the results of recent public-opinion surveys on belief in creationism or AGW, or watch reality TV shows. So, while we agree with the Baron’s identification of increased gravity as causing stratospheric cooling, we think his attribution of the increase might be incorrect.

Which do you think is most important - increased fatness or increased density? We’d welcome your comments and supporting evidence!

John Cook offers a list of
human fingerprints!


Outputs from a NASA climate model for 100 years of response (global mean temperature change and temperature change vs latitude) to doubled atmospheric CO2. The vertical pressure (= height) scale is logarithmic to more clearly show the cooling in the stratosphere (base at ~100 mb). If heaven is above the tropopause, heaven over Huntsville (and elsewhere) will be cooling. Our upcoming climate model based on half a glass of gin & tonic is expected to replicate the observed cooling much more precisely.

Appendix: a quick debunking of evolution and global warming - in one handy package!