I realised this morning why climate scientists are such alarmists. There was a very simple explanation for it. It’s been staring me in the face for the past year, as I’ve been constructing heat flow simulation models of ice sheets. But I’m very slow: it takes me a long time to see the obvious.
I can use some of my results to demonstrate. On the right is a graph showing how temperatures vary in surface rocks beneath a deep layer of snow or ice at latitude 45º N. When the snow appears on the surface of the Earth, the surface rocks start heating up. And they heat up very slowly. Over 100,000 years they only rise in temperature by about 50 degrees K, And when the snow melts and the surface rocks cool back down, they still take a very long time to return to their original temperature.
But the air temperature above the snow sheets changes very rapidly. When the snow arrives, air temperatures step downwards by about 30 degrees K. And when the snow melts they step back up. And these step changes only take about 25 – 50 years.
And what this shows is that, by comparison with the rocks beneath the surface of the Earth, the atmosphere is highly volatile. It can heat up and cool down very rapidly. In 25 years it can flip from one state to another. And in fact we all know that locally it can flip from being warm and sunny to cold and wet in the space of a few minutes.
So geologists and glaciologists are people who are dealing with something that is changing slowly, and climatologists and meteorologists are people who are dealing with something that changes quickly.
And that’s why the climatologists are alarmists. They’re aware that the climate – which is what happens in the Earth’s atmosphere – can change radically over a few decades. And they’ve been shouting about it for the past 30 or 40 years. First they were shouting that that we were all going to freeze. But then they changed their minds and decided that we were all going to boil.
If you’re a climatologist, you must be an alarmist. You must worry about the Earth’s climate flipping from one state to another over a period of less than a century, because that’s what your science tells you it can do. You’ll be an alarmist in ways that geologists are unlikely to be alarmists, because geological processes are for the most part very slow. And you won’t be an alarmist if you’re a meteorologist, because you know that storms blow over after a while, and you only have to wait a few hours or days before things get back to normal.
And I think the climatologists are quite right: the Earth’s atmosphere is highly volatile. And I’ve just demonstrated that volatility using my simple little simulation model. I can see for myself the rapid change taking place in atmospheric temperature.
But they’ve started a completely unnecessary panic. There are now millions of people who are very very worried about something that doesn’t really merit such worry. And it’s also something that the climatologists have changed their minds at least once, and are quite likely to change their minds about again. For theirs isn’t a settled science. Science never is settled.