Earth’s water cycle, over Carbon Dioxide, cause of Global Warming

Photo: Justin Hobson
Photo: Justin Hobson

CHICAGO, September 23, 2014 — Climate scientists are obsessed with carbon dioxide. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that “radiative forcing” from human-emitted CO2 is the leading driver of climate change. Carbon dioxide is blamed for everything from causing more droughts, floods, and hurricanes, to endangering polar bears and acidifying the oceans. But Earth’s climate is dominated by water, not carbon dioxide.

Earth’s water cycle encompasses the salt water of the oceans, the fresh water of rivers and lakes, and frozen icecaps and glaciers. It includes water flows within and between the oceans, atmosphere, and land, in the form of evaporation, precipitation, storms and weather. The water cycle contains enormous energy flows that shape Earth’s climate, temperature trends, and surface features. Water effects are orders of magnitude larger than the feared effects of carbon dioxide.

Sunlight falls directly on the Tropics, where much energy is absorbed, and indirectly on the Polar Regions, where less energy is absorbed. All weather on Earth is driven by a redistribution of heat from the Tropics to the Polar Regions. Evaporation creates massive tropical storm systems, which move heat energy north to cooler latitudes. Upper level winds, along with the storm fronts, cyclones, and ocean currents of Earth’s water cycle, redistribute heat energy from the Tropics to the Polar Regions.

The Pacific Ocean is Earth’s largest surface feature, covering one-third of the globe and large enough to contain all land masses with area remaining. Oceans have 250 times the mass of the atmosphere and can hold over 1,000 times the heat energy. Oceans have a powerful, yet little understood effect on Earth’s climate.

Even the greenhouse effect itself is dominated by water. Between 75 percent and 90 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor and clouds.

Yet, the IPCC and today’s climate modelers propose that the “flea” wags “the dog.” The flea, of course, is carbon dioxide, and the dog, is the water cycle. The theory of man-made warming assumes a positive feedback from water vapor, forced by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

The argument is that, since warmer air can hold more moisture, atmospheric water vapor will increase as Earth warms. Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, additional water vapor is presumed to add additional warming to that caused by CO2. In effect, the theory assumes that the carbon cycle is controlling the more powerful water cycle.

But for the last 16 years, Earth’s surface temperatures have failed to rise, despite rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. All climate models predicted a rapid rise in global temperatures, in conflict with actual measured data. Today’s models are often unable to predict weather conditions for a single season, let alone long-term climate trends.

An example is Atlantic hurricane prediction. Last May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its 2013 hurricane forecast, calling for an “active or extremely active” hurricane season. At that time, NOAA predicted 7 to 11 Atlantic hurricanes (storms with sustained wind speeds of 74 mph or higher). In August NOAA revised their forecast down to 6 to 9 hurricanes. We entered October 2013 with a count of only two hurricane-strength storms. Computer models are unable to accurately forecast one season of Earth’s water cycle in just one region.

The IPCC and proponents of the theory of man-made warming are stumped by the 16-year halt in global surface temperature rise. Dr. Kevin Trenberth hypothesizes that the heat energy from greenhouse gas forcing has gone into the deep oceans. If so, score one for the power of the oceans on climate change.

Others have noted the prevalence of La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean since 1998. During 1975-1998, when global temperatures were rising, the Pacific experienced more warm El Niño events than the cooler La Niñas. But the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a powerful temperature cycle in the North Pacific Ocean, moved into a cool phase about ten years ago. With the PDO in a cool phase, we now see more La Niña conditions. Maybe more La Niñas are the reason for the recent flat global temperatures. But if so, isn’t this evidence that ocean and water cycle effects are stronger than the effects of CO2?

Geologic evidence from past ice ages shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide increases follow, rather than precede, global temperature increases. As the oceans warm, they release CO2 into the atmosphere. Climate change is dominated by changes in the water cycle, driven by solar and gravitational forces, and carbon dioxide appears to play only a minor role.


Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the new book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.


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Steve Goreham is a speaker, author, and researcher on environmental issues and a former engineer and business executive. He’s a frequently invited guest on radio and television as well as a freelance writer. He is the Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America, a non-political association of scientists, engineers, and citizens working to inform Americans about the realities of climate science and energy economics. Steve is also author of two books on climate change, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania and Climatism! Science, Common Sense, and the 21st Century’s Hottest Topic. Steve holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has more than 30 years of experience at Fortune 100 and private companies in engineering and executive roles. As a white water kayaker, he paddled many of the great rivers of North America. He is a husband and father of three and resides in Illinois.
  • Arne

    This guy is using the same old “creationist” arguments and fake information as all deniers, and he is not a scientist; but he certainly seems to be a professional money maker as a science denier with an obvious self interest in continuing his denier career.

    All his arguments, including the statement that there has been “NO” warming the past 16 years, are refuted by science, and he is no scientist.

  • Michelle Teller

    Global Warming Scientology is State Sponsored Religion for Fools.

  • DrRaeMD

    Hmmm… Who should we believe? The climatologists at Queen’s University, at NOAA, at the Met, at NASA, and so forth, or an Electrical engineer with an MBA and no practical experience in the science of climatology?
    I guess it’s the same as asking who you’d believe about the mass in your armpit, the oncologist, radiologist and IM physicians (who tell you it’s cancer and needs treatment), or your Librarian, who tells you it’s nothing serious?
    We can heed the advice of the experts, or ignore it at our own peril.

  • ReduceGHGs

    There goes goreham AGAIN! He’s a corporate hack, paid by and pandering to the heartland institute which is well funded by the fossil fuel industries. He is NOT a trained climate scientist. He doesn’t have ONE study or ONE respected scientific institution to back up his propaganda. Some people will sell our future generations out for anything!

  • Chad C

    This article is a cherry picking fest, so let’s just simplify the effects of humans on global warming.
    First the equation that has dominated the Earth’s cooling for billions of years is X+Y-Z = Cooling.
    “X” being the amount of heat energy the Earth contained when it was just a ball of magma in space.
    “Y” Being the amount of heat added to Earth by the sun.
    “Z” Being the amount of heat radiated into space.
    For billions of years we radiated more heat into space than we got from the Sun and so the Earth cooled. That is why we are no longer a ball of magma.
    Now the Earth does go through cycles of about 11,500 years where we heat up some because our larger orbit is closer to the sun and is followed by an ice age because our larger orbit is farther from the sun. In fact we were due for one of these ice ages right about the 17th century, but it was only a “little ice age” because in the middle of the 19th century something happened to disrupt the natural heating/cooling cycle of the Earth.
    Humans discovered potential energy sources like coal, natural gas, oil and later wind, solar, hydro electric and even nuclear that they started to use to light and heat homes and create electricity, smelt iron and massively increase the industrial sector of human civilization. As a consequence of this change in human civilization, two things happened.
    1. Massive amounts of green house gases were released into the atmosphere reducing the effect of “Z” in our equation so we radiated less heat into space.
    2. A new heat source created by humans was added to the equation making the new equation X+Y+H-Z = Warming.
    “H” being heat unnaturally produced by humans.
    Humans currently produce more than 30,000 times our own body heat in technology produced heat.
    Heat that was not there before.
    Car engines, stoves, ovens, water heaters, air conditioner motors, light bulbs, planes, trains, steel factories, power plants, power lines, computers and virtually every piece of technology we have takes previously potential energy and turns it into heat.
    This heat does not just go away. It is added to the atmosphere and oceans.
    Now as for the leveling off of the heating of the planet, that’s very easy to understand.
    When you have a drink in a warm room that has ice in it. The drink may remain relatively cool,but it is still heating. That heat is melting the ice in the drink, but when the ice is gone, the drink heats up again quickly.
    That is what is happening on Earth right now.
    Back in 1996 the Earth’s global warming finally hit the polar ice caps and they began to melt at an alarming rate which has been accelerating each year since.
    The ice in our drink is melting and when it’s gone, the suicidal rise in temperature will resume.
    So what can we do about this?
    Well we have a few options.
    1. Stop using the vast amounts of technology pouring heat and greenhouse gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. (I assume this won’t happen because half the population would drop dead if we didn’t have the internet.)
    2. Reduce our greenhouse gases to the point where we are again venting more heat into space than is being added by the Sun and Humans.
    3. Find a new way to vent heat into space.
    4. Build massive biodomes where some of the human population can live and grow their own food to survive before the world becomes unlivable.
    5. Leave Earth and find a new planet to ruin.
    6. Die off.