Mike Mann on Climate Change and Cold Air Outbreaks

February 21, 2021

This science is still an area of intense debate – the frequency and intensity of arctic cold outbreaks, and their relation to climate change.

Mike Mann addresses starting at :50 here.
For now, I’ll take this as the gold standard explanation of what we know, and don’t know.

Below, Katharine Hayhoe has a very good balanced take on CNN:


19 Responses to “Mike Mann on Climate Change and Cold Air Outbreaks”

    • John Oneill Says:

      Cheerful guy this Bristlecombe, inny ? The thesis is that mankind screwed the climate without even trying, but if they do try to fix it on purpose, it can’t be done. I disagree with Mann, though, that just going flat out on renewables is enough, or even advisable. Gates is right – we’ll need to science the scheiss out of this. (Misquote from film ‘The Martian’, where the hero saved his bacon by digging up a radioisotope generator, to stop him freezing to death. Why anyone would bother to bury such a thing on Mars – no radiation outside the shield, only alphas, and no biota to harm if there was – remained unexplained.)
      The fact that covid made no noticeable dent in the rise of emissions does show that stopping them – going to zero – is not enough. The probability that some of the temperature rise is not from increased GHGs, but from reduced sulphur and aerosol pollution, suggests that Gates’ proposal for solar radiation management is plausible. The reduction in temperature after the Pinatubo eruption gives a natural analogue, and deliberate sulfate (or perhaps titanium dioxide or other, more reflective options ) injection into the stratosphere would avoid nearly all of the local health effects, and massive associated CO2 production, from burning coal.
      Ways to draw down greenhouse gases out of the air will clearly also be necessary. Aforestation, and creation or restoration of wetlands, will help. Accelerated erosion, by grinding up olivine to absorb CO2, is promising. What’s mother nature’s way of reducing CO2 levels, after an excursion ? Erosion of fresh rock. What’s the driving force ? Nuclear heat powering tectonic movement. If we shift all energy to nuclear, and use the off-peak excess to mine and crush CO2-absorbing rock, the result would be less acidic oceans, and more fertile soils without artificial fertilisers. The atmosphere and ocean are in equilibrium for dissolved gases, so less in the ocean would quickly mean less in the air. Quantities involved are on a par with current masses of coal and aggregates mining.
      It’s true that we’re going to dangerous GHG levels, but the climate is a ponderous beast – more so than the human economy. Hopefully we can spin our ship around faster than it can respond. What’s the alternative anyway ?- no point writing a ‘Goodbye cruel universe ‘ note if there’s nobody left to read it.

      • J4Zonian Says:

        A distressing number of my comments have disappeared as I tried to post them recently, including a response to the anti-renewable linked geoengimagicalism/nuclear shdullp nonsense O’Neill is selling.

        Even if nukes might otherwise be the problem (which they aren’t) we can’t possibly build enough in time to replace fossil fuels and avoid cataclysm. Some spent fuel rod nook boosters are finally getting clever enough to recognize that but instead of responding by recognizing clean safe renewable energy as the only way to replace fossil fuels, (accompanied by necessary revolutions in ag and forestry) the nuclehead shdullps are trying to mislead people into the feeling that we have time, because geoengimagical solutions will work. This is a compound lie to keep insanity going.

        • J4Zonian Says:

          Oops. Should be “Even if nukes might otherwise be the solution (which they aren’t)…”

          I’m always looking for ways to point out problems without reinforcing the incorrect framing. Sometimes it gets convoluted, and I lost my way here, chopped out the detouring part, and forgot to fix the rest.

          • John Oneill Says:

            It was clear enough that you misspoke. I sometimes have problems putting in a comment, and have found that logging out on Facebook, then logging in again, speeds up the post’s acceptance.
            The perception that nuclear is too slow to roll out is widespread, and understandable when you look at Olkiluoto, Flamanville, and V.C.Summer/ Vogtle. The fact that the same models of reactor – the Westinghouse AP1000 and the Framatome EPR 1600 – were brought into production fairly seamlessly in China, suggests that maybe it’s not the reactor that’s the problem. Japan and South Korea have also built reactors in about four years from first concrete, both their own and, in Korea and China, Canadian heavy water reactors. In the West, the US replaced the 20% of its generation fleet powered by oil in the seventies and eighties, in about twenty years. Belgium and Sweden also built enough for about 50% of their power in the same era, and France for 80%. In all these cases, a significant drop in GHGs from the power sector followed, something that has not been seen in the subsequent push for wind and solar.
            A snapshot –
            nuclear 67%, hydro 13, solar 0.8, wind 6.5, coal 0.8, gas 7.5, biomass 1.3
            – result 67 grams CO2/kwh.
            nuclear 13.4% hydro 2, solar 0, wind 31.8, coal 22, gas 12.6, biomass 7.7
            – result 289 grams CO2/kwh
            Note that Germany has spent longer building out solar and wind than France spent on nuclear, and has 115 GW of both combined, nearly double its current total power demand. Taking my snapshot in the daytime, or in the northern hemisphere summer, might have made Germany’s ‘Energiewende’ look a little rosier, but not much. Comparing Denmark to Sweden, or Ontario to California, would tell the same story – nuclear (plus hydro) has radically reduced power emissions, wind and solar have not.
            As to all the ‘geoengimagicalism’ non-arguments, the simple fact is that carbon on the earth is mostly in the form of carbonate rock – the amount in the ocean, the soil, and living creatures, is dwarfed by that in limestone, made from the shells of long dead shellfish. The mass of carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2 is about 400 times less than that in the ocean, mostly in the form of dissolved carbonates, which will eventually become sedimentary rock. 60% of that atmospheric CO2 has to stay there, unless we want another ice age. So our problem is that we have too hastily transferred carbon from one of Gaia’s smaller reservoirs – fossil fuels – to the smallest, the air. It is only because the atmosphere is comparatively tiny that our efforts have had an effect. Conversely, speeding up the opposite part of the cycle, where dissolved CO2 reacts with silicates containing magnesium and calcium, to form carbonates and lower the Ph of the water column, is using an exogenous reaction – it’s going downhill energetically, whereas breaking the CO2 molecule to make sugars takes a large input of solar energy. The best rock to use, olivine, is also the most abundant. This will happen on geological timescales, but that might be too late for humanity. To give us time, volcanic dust in the air has long been known to lower world temperatures. That countries like China and India would rather let their citizens die en masse of heat stroke than try to use this seems very unlikely. Doing research to better understand how to, or why not to, is simple common sense. If you don’t like any technological solutions, what are you doing on this computer ?

    • The usual denialist crap
      “Context of natural carbon cycle” Ignores that all the work has shown that the CO₂ increase is way outside of what is expected from a natural carbon cycle
      “Mitigation Myth” Statement made without support
      “Not CO₂ but something else” that something being undefined
      “Greenhouse gasses are necessary” – ignoring that excessive increases in gg’s are the problem

      Go away and come back when you have published something peer reviewed

      • Mark Mev Says:

        Don’t you understand? The peer review process is set up to stop anything that “proves” that anthropogenic climate change is false. That’s why my car mechanic can’t get his thesis on the CO2 not causing warming published. It is so simple, please put on the tin foil hat, let your mind clear, and you will see the globalist agenda! Or so I’ve been told.

  1. Betty Harris Says:

    What do you think about this? https://www.inverse.com/science/why-turning-the-sahara-into-a-giant-solar-farm-could-damage-the-global-climate

    Are we damned if we do and damned if we don’t?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      20 percent of the Sahara in solar panels is highly unlikely, and unnecessary.
      A few percent would be more than enough, but would probably not make
      sense, as there are so many other opportunities around the planet.

      We can do this just fine.

    • grindupbaker Says:

      Article has “only a fraction (around 15%) of that incoming energy” but I find with a quick search:
      Make Model Power Efficiency
      1 SunPower Maxeon 3 400 W 22.6 %
      2 LG Neon R 380 W 22.0 %
      3 REC Alpha 380 W 21.7 %
      4 FuturaSun FU M Zebra 360 W 21.3 %
      5 Trina Solar Vertex S 400 W 20.8 %
      6 Jinko Solar Tiger Pro 6Rl3 390 W 20.7 %
      7 Q cells Q.Peak DUO G9 360 W 20.6 %
      8 Winaico WST-375MG 375 W 20.6 %
      9 Longi Solar Hi-Mo 4 375 W 20.6 %
      10 Solaria Power XT 370 W 20.5 %
      Also, such as “One way to boost a cell’s efficiency is to add layers tuned to different parts of the solar spectrum. This means reaching beyond silicon to other materials. So-called III-V semiconductors, made of elements from group III of the periodic table (aluminium, gallium and indium) and group V (phosphorus and arsenic) are one approach. Indeed, gallium arsenide is already used in applications like satellites. John Geisz and his colleagues at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Colorado, have produced a six-junction cell containing various III-V mixtures, each with different light-absorbing properties. This cell has an efficiency of 47.1% in laboratory conditions”
      Article has “Covering 20% of the Sahara with solar farms raises local temperatures in the desert by 1.5°C according to our model. At 50% coverage, the temperature increase is 2.5°C”. I compute that the present human energy 22,000 gigawatts (allowing 10% grid efficiency loss) + 10% to make some jet/rocket fuel would require 5.0% of the Sahara with a 20% Solar PV efficiency per above commercial products, not 20% or 50%.
      Article has “The global temperature shift is not uniform though – the polar regions would warm more than the tropics, increasing sea ice loss in the Arctic”. Correct but it would reduce, not increase, Wonky Jet Stream.
      If Solar PV can be made to accept & use extreme radiation like 2,000 watts / m**2 just for example or whatever, then Sahara could have 4 mirrors + 1 panel instead of 5 panels.
      The assessments re: rainfall change of Amazon and Congo Basins is obviously well beyond me to comment on, likely enough correct for the huge Sahara coverage they show at the low Solar PV efficiency they’ve used (so they assume human technology has finally ended this year) because they used computer modeling, it looks well thought out.

    • redskylite Says:

      And then there is electricity from space:

      “Scientists working for the Pentagon have successfully tested a solar panel the size of a pizza box in space, designed as a prototype for a future system to send electricity from space back to any point on Earth. ”


  2. neilrieck Says:

    Mann is correct about the polar vortex. When there is less energy in the overall system, a cold-ring doughnut is meant to sit over the Northern latitudes during winter. That doughnut maintains a stable jet stream. Conversely, adding energy to the total system will weaken the doughnut which produces a roller-coaster jet stream. When I first became aware of this in 2012, I always compared the winter temperatures of here, Waterloo, Ontario (43N) and Anchorage Alaska (61 N) over the winter months. Two weeks ago it was always colder in Waterloo. Today the two cities are at the same temperature.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      I’ve been sitting in on a discussion of this, and there seems to be agreement that something is *probably* going on, but there’s a whole lot of physics that has to be done to make a connection everyone can agree on.

      • toddinnorway Says:

        See Paul Beckwith’s 15-minute summary of the latest climate research publication on this issue.

        Review: Arctic Temperature Amplification Influence on Polar Vortex Causing Severe Winter Weather

  3. redskylite Says:

    More and more reports are supporting the warming Arctic – cold continent theory (made famous by Jennifer Francis et al), and what an earth do we expect will happen as “Catastrophic Climate Change” looms closer and closer. The slowing AMOC will also have a dramatic effect on many areas used to a pleasant warming ocean current.

    I like Mann’s professional optimism and calmness in this video, I hope it works, I really do.

    The great Isaac Asimov foresaw what is needed: to quote:-

    “The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. There must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike.

    Can that be done? The question is equivalent to: Can humanity survive?
    There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.”
    “This synergistic effect can be regarded as a necessary background for triggering the cold surges invading most countries in East Asia and North America.”


    • redskylite Says:

      There’s a whole lot of research and spending money that supports that “something is going on” and that’s science for you. Let’s assume that instabilities will increase as the GHG blanket around earth thickens and we head for the dreaded “Catastrophic Climate Change”, even if that is not scientific. Then we can plan for events we suspect will happen increasingly. How many studies do we need to act ?

      “09/22/2017 – When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia.”


  4. J4Zonian Says:

    @Kevin Hester
    Brimblecombe’s take is a combination of (populationism-inspired?) despair (whose real reason is always personal psychology rather than accurate assessment), semantic sophistry, (problems can be solved, predicaments can’t? “These feedback loops have been triggered by our carbon emissions. But they are not a part of the feedback loops.”??) and mis- or disinterpretations of reality caused by black and white thinking.

    “1. Time is running out.
    2. There is no central authority.
    3. Those seeking to solve the problem are also causing it.
    4. Policies discount the future irrationally.”

    1. Yes. But it hasn’t run out yet, as far as we know. We are facing inevitable enormous damage but that’s not the same as the end of everything.
    2. There doesn’t have to be. There is authority. It’s the people, and their desire to solve the problem is clear.
    3. No. The problem is not personal lifestyles; it’s political, (see #2) structural, psycho-industrial, and at the root, psychological. The psych problems will take a while to solve and heal but will be tremendously helped just by a significant minority recognizing that our problems are psychological.
    The simpler-to-solve logistical crisis is 2-fold but interlinked—the GHG crisis, fixable by political and technical-industrial actions, and the larger ecological crisis, partly fixable by the same actions (eliminating fossil fuels also drastically reduces lots of pollutants besides GHGs), partly by others we need to take, and partly, is an even larger eco-psychological crisis that will only be fixed as our selves and relationships are fixed.
    4. Some policies do. Wise ones don’t, and they’re known by many, ready to adopt them as soon as they have enough political power.

    Round 2:
    Some of us, in the situation we now find themselves in, are the problem. Every part of that is fixable.
    It is irrational to think, even worse to assume, that we are now on an irreversible path of biosphere collapse. We have deep problems that will take time to fix, and extremely urgent problems that we can fix, and must, to give us the time we need to fix the others.

    PS. Guy McPherson uses the same dishonest, manipulative tactics as the denying delayalists and for the same end—to keep people from preventing ecological catastrophe. You’d help yourself by paying no more attention to him.

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