What shall we do with Wally Broecker’s wild beast now that we have caught it by the tail?

Wally did an admirable job over 20 years ago now.  But Wally has gone to the dark side more recently – bemoaning the failure of democracy and lauding China.  At least he was still forecasting economic growth – I think the phrase was we couldn’t avoid it.  Buck up Wally – any liberal, democratic capitalist will tell you that growth is most efficient and sustainable in stable, classic liberal, civil democracies with capitalist markets.

It is ironic then that the tracks of the climate beast he named global warming all those years ago – that impose significant constraints on anthropogenic warming in the 20th century – can be seen so readily in the surface temperature record.  Try it – there are four regimes shifts – around 1912, the mid 1940’s, the late 1970’s, and 1998/2001.  Warming, cooling, warming and at least not warming much.  Now you’re an environmental – if not climate – scientist.  I am inspired – btw – to continue to labor the beast metaphor – at least I have not capitalised it – by no less than Science O’ Doom himself.

The phrase was science poetry.  I was looking for a scattergram of calculated and observed OLR in an old post.  Acceptably close.  There has always been a science that is poetic at an erudite core.   Very recent thinking on science it that it should be rich and fruitful – or perhaps more a forensic investigation than a poem?  So I will continue to wax on and wax off – much as climate itself does.  We can sample the two regimes we know most about – mid 20th century cooling and late century warming – and may or may not attribute the difference to greenhouse gases in the period that they started to grow strongly.  Because it “evens out”.  It’s about 0.4 degrees Kelvin – and relatively insignificant in the scheme of things – IMO, LMFAO.


Climate data show the chaotic heart of the beast pounding through woodland and savannah.  It moves with immense power and speed across landscapes and oceans.  It shifts suddenly and fiercely. We ain’t seen fierce in the 20th century – we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.   But what shall we do now with this wild and angry beast?  There are approaches mooted – including shibboleths of neo-green-leftists – which are not worth worrying about.  But there are a plurality of solutions to other problems each with intrinsic mitigation or sequestration potential.  I can point to a couple of dozen off the top of the heads of Nobel laureate economists.  I like to see it as part of a global mission to secure prosperous communities in vibrant and resilient landscapes this century.

Click to access post-2015_presentation_3.pdf

“The top-of-atmosphere (TOA) Earth radiation budget (ERB) is determined from the difference between how much energy is absorbed and emitted by the planet. Climate forcing results in an imbalance in the TOA radiation budget that has direct implications for global climate, but the large natural variability in the Earth’s radiation budget due to fluctuations in atmospheric and ocean dynamics complicates this picture.”https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10712-012-9175-1

Fluctuations in ocean and atmospheric circulation happen on many scales – and include 20-30 year regimes in global surface temperature trends – and in sea surface temps in the eastern Pacific. The associated energy changes at TOA are associated with water vapour due to changing atmospheric temps and cloud changes anti-correlated with SST in the tropical and sub-tropical Pacific.


Cloud changes dominate energy dynamics – prominently in the shortwave band. But as I said above – you can’t get any idea of what is happening without data on radiant flux at TOA. Reliable and long term data preferably. Data inconvenient for the cause is systematically denied – either cause is much of a muchness in my view.

The 20 to 30 year regimes are chaotic shifts of quasi standing waves in the spatio/temporal chaos of the climate system. They may change a little or a lot with greenhouse gases giving form to Wally’s wild beast.

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