Weightings on various aspects of climate change

By Alan Barron.                                    Date:    Monday, 28 April 2014.

Sun Spot Activity. Image NY Times
Weighting factors are estimated values indicating the relative importance or impact of each item in a group as compared to the other items in the group. In this instance I shall attempt to weight the various aspects of climate. For the purpose of this exercise `climate’ is defined as a period of weather records over a thirty year time span.

The word `atmosphere’ comes from the mid 17th century from Latin atmosphaera, which derived from the from Greek atmos 'vapor' + sphaira 'ball, globe'. In ancient Greek, `atmos’ is from PIE and refers to wind ("to blow.") It also had a religious meaning, "to inspire, spiritually arouse."

Historically the atmosphere was regarded as `indivisible’ meaning it should be regarded as a whole, and not divided up into systems like the human body which has 11 systems.*   It is therefore misleading to divide the atmosphere into components by using such terms as `greenhouse gases.’  

The greenhouse gas (GHG) theory is a clumsy effort to explain the dynamics of the operation of Infra-Red (IR) on global temperatures.  The correct description of the physical ability of a gas, like CO2, would be a Radiatively Able Gas (RAG). This simply means a gas that can absorb and emit infra red (IR) waves.  By comparison a Non Radiatively Able Gas (NRAG) like nitrogen and oxygen does not have this ability.  A Radiatively Able Gas can cool or warm by emission or absorption of IR. It is oxygen which transfers the heat back to the surface of the Earth.
The atmosphere is one complete entity – it is the envelope of gases surrounding the earth (or another planet) and acts as one entity.  Part of the Sun’s incoming energy is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere.   It is not as if the atmosphere is stagnant and then along comes a weather system. The atmosphere itself is always the weather system; they are not distinctly two concepts. 

In the same way as the tide is the ocean (in popular usage, although there are geomagnetic tides), and linguistically speaking, you could not describe the ocean tide without the water, the weather if you like is the tide of the air.

The question of whether mankind can influence the weather by land use changes (building cities, clearing large tracts of forests) is an open question.  Certainly it has a local impact but whether that translates into any significance of global proportions is highly dubious.  The atmosphere will just deal with what it finds as it is a dynamic system constantly changing and adapting mostly to external factors with a lesser impact from internal factors. 

The purpose of assigning weighting factors is straightforward.  They help us establish the importance in descending order of the various components which shape the climate on this planet.  There are many elements which contribute to our planet’s climate and weather systems.

Based on my own research and present state of knowledge, I would make the following weightings of components which shape and control Earth’s climate. 

Category.                                                                                                Weighting

Changes to whole planet

Totally irrespective of geography - nothing to do with weather.

I.  The Sun, Sun spot activity, Cosmic winds, Heliosphere                             
Without the Sun there would be no light or warmth or no life.                             50%

2. Magnetosphere
The magnetosphere protects the planet from too much UV and makes
life possible on Earth                                                                                         20%

3. Deviation of Earth’s rotational axis to the vertical.
Earth’s orbital variations (The Earth’s tilt ranges from 22 to 24.5. Currently it’s 23.3). Our seasons are controlled by the angle of deviation of our rotational axis to the vertical. The angle changes over time and varies between 22.1 and 25.5 deg to the vertical. This variation causes drastic changes to our climate, from ice ages to raging heatwaves.  We have been there many times before over millennia.                                                                               10%

4. Variation of Earth’s orbit.  Variation in distance from the Sun;
more elongated the more temperatures drop. (`Milankovic effect’).                          5%   

Secondary factors influencing climate

5.   Proximity to equator -The further away the colder it gets                                 4%

6.   Direction of prevailing winds,                                                                 4%

7.    Topographic factorsshape of land, proximity to other land masses,
elevation and distance from coast                                                                           2%

Factors which influence weather

8.      Influence of Moon on tides                                                                          2%
(Including air tides), weather comes from the ocean and most rain falls back into it.  
Ocean influences  (The El Nino) this is part of the moon’s influence. 
Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO),
Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). Jetstream, Gulfstream

9.      Level and intensity of cloud cover.                                                               2%
Keeps heat in and decides what rain will fall and where and when  

10.  Miscellaneous –other factors                                                                           1%
Impact on weather is minimal, these include;
Land use changes,  Ice-reflectivity feedback,  
Industrial and commercial activity of mankind including CO2 emissions,
Size of populations. Volcanic activity.

                          Total                                                                                          100%

Thus we can see that the top 4 account for 85% of the total. These factors are completely outside mankind’s ability to influence or manipulate. Humanity has can choice as to where they care to reside.  This decision will have more impact on how they experience climate/weather rather than land usage, industrial activity and also size of populations.  Man’s industrial production and use of fossil fuels has no significant impact on climate as climate is controlled by factors 1 to 4 above.

In terms of weather, while land usage, industrial production, use of fossil fuel etc, will have a mild local impact on weather (heat island affect).  Man’s activities do not have the ability impact climate to any measurable degree.


The idea that mankind has to zero in on one tiny component in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide - in order to stop `dangerous climate change’ is misleading and dangerous as it diverts attention away from other more pressing environmental issues and is not supported by the science.

In terms of `greenhouse gases’ (so called), water vapour makes up 96%, carbon dioxide about 3 %, and other gases, such as methane 1%.  Warming, or cooling, the climate is not being controlled or primarily driven by CO2, natural or man-made - period.

Notes  * There are eleven (11) systems of the human body.
1. Integumentary System: skin, connective tissue, and fascia
2. Muscular System: muscles
3. Skeletal and Articular System: skeleton, joints, tendons, and ligaments
4. Respiratory System: nose, larynx, lungs
5. Digestive System: alimentary tract, liver, pancreas
6. Cardiovascular System: heart, arteries, veins
7. Lymphatic System: thymus, spleen, lymph nodes
8. Endocrine System: pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, spleen, pancreatic islets of langerhans, some cells in the kidney, parathyroid glands
9. Urinary System: kidneys, ureter, bladder, urethra
10. Reproductive System: penis, testicles, uterus, vagina, ovary, cervix
11. Nervous System: brain, eyes, ears, taste buds