Climate Pandemonium!

Phil Salmon

With COP26 in Glasgow concluding as I write, the global movement of CO2 climate warming alarm is at its zenith of political and popular influence. This ironclad edifice of dystopia however has feet of clay – it is based on a colossal scientific failure (1) – that goes beyond climate, encompassing the whole enterprise of science. We will trace its roots in philosophy and epistemology, focusing on the issue of reductionism. Climate science has failed to adequately recognize chaotic-emergent phenomena, leading to inability to understand what climate really is. In climate, reductionism meets its Stalingrad.

Choose your paradigm – wisely!

Reductionism is the explanation of a natural system as the integrated sum of the behavior of all its components. It’s “bottom up” science, from a gas molecule in air up to an Atlantic hurricane. Reductionism has enjoyed spectacular success especially in the 20th century. The discovery of the atom’s family of particles and laws by a pantheon of physicists led to the outstanding predictive power of the Standard Model. Not to be left behind, biologists Watson and Crick reduced heredity to the polysaccharide-protein double helix of DNA.

But another pantheon – or would we prefer “pandemonium”? (2) – of equal importance has been overlooked – that of Mandelbrot, Feigenbaum, Ruelle, Lorenz, Belousov, Prigogine and others. They uncovered a body of theory and experiment which we will call chaos-emergence for short. This is centered on the insight that complex systems export entropy (3, 4) leading to spontaneous emergence of pattern. Emergent pattern runs counter to reductionism, and such is the zeal of many reductionists that they deny emergence (5).

However emergence in nature was recognized as early as ~50 AD by Heron of Alexandria (6). An essential property of physical systems is “action”, more fundamental even than energy or entropy (7). The discovery of principles of “least action” – the tendency for action to be minimized – began with Heron’s insight that reflected light travels in shortest straight lines. Centuries later this was developed by Fermat, Lagrange and Noether into foundational principles of least action in which, for instance, an object’s freefall trajectory that would be seriously complex to describe by Newtonian mechanics, becomes simple when solved as a minimization of kinetic-potential energy difference (the “Lagrangian”).

These principles of chaotic emergence and least action impact on the claims of CO2 climate warming. An increase in atmospheric CO2 will exert a thermodynamic effect by infrared absorption-emission via the principle of least action (kinetic thermal movement of atoms is “action”). The system will respond to this change by multiple pathways including feedbacks. In a chaos paradigm it is far from clear that this would result in overall warming. A temperature rise of the entire ocean and atmosphere is a gigantic action – the precise opposite of what least action would require. So the CO2 warming hypothesis of Tyndall and Arrhenius contradicts least action. It’s more like “most action”.

Does climate regulate its own temperature?

Complex systems like climate can minimize thermal “action” by emergent thermal homeostasis (8). Bullock and Bartlett (9) demonstrated “the emergence of spontaneous temperature regulation by the combined action of two sets of dissipative structures” in simulated artificial life. (Applying their conclusions to climate – likened to life – is my interpretation, not the authors’.) Dissipative structure is a concept originated by Prigogine (10). The climate is a set of dissipative structures involving air, water, water vapor and ice, a heat engine redistributing heat from equator to pole. It is likely that some form of emergent thermal homeostasis operates in the climate system. In this regard, reductionist and chaotic-emergent paradigms come to divergent conclusions about effects of added CO2; the former foresees runaway positive thermal feedback, the latter emergent thermoregulation.

The CO2 “heat trapping” hypothesis is firmly located in reductionist “Linearland” based on a simple cartoon of radiative cause and effect, paying no attention to any emergent or least action principle. Such reductionism and denial of chaos-emergence can be seen in the case of former NASA scientist Ferenc Miskolczi. Working at NASA’s Langley research center, Miskolczi viewed radiosonde balloon data alongside mathematical simulations and saw an emergent paradigm, a path out of Linearland. He saw evidence that the supposed CO2-induced change in infrared emission height did not happen, that instead other system parameters such as water vapor adapted to keep the emission height unchanged (11). Emergent thermal homeostasis.

Miskolczi’s emergent blasphemy against reductionist dogma provoked a violent reaction in NASA. After he submitted his paper to a journal, his boss hacked his account using his password and without his consent withdrew the paper. Miskolczi was fired.

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam

The climate alarm narrative commits the logical fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam. To paraphrase, “recent warming must be anthropogenic because – we just can’t think of anything else that it could be”. Technically this is the problem of “attribution”. As we shall see – from the paradigm of chaos-emergence, there is no problem at all explaining the natural variation that has always characterized climate on all, fractal scales (figure 1).

Argumentum ad ignorantiam impedes scientific progress, as with Weggener’s continental drift hypothesis that was rejected for half a century based on “we can’t see how it could happen”. But happen it does. Observation must take precedence over theory. The philosopher of science Karl Popper stated that science must be deductive, not inductive (12). You make a conjecture then try to refute it experimentally. Induction by contrast builds assumption on assumption into a theoretical house of cards. Climate science is massively inductive with its complex mechanistic models. Popper’s verdict was stark: “there are no inductive inferences”.

Figure 1. Climate has the unmistakable fractal signature of chaotic-emergent processes, as shown by the saw-tooth climate wavetrain over glacial-interglacial cycles of the ice core record from the Antarctic Vostok station (12).

Is there a cure for chaos?

The onset of chaos, from linearity via transitional bifurcations to eventually full turbulence, is well understood (14). Turn on a tap slowly – first it drips, then flows in a smooth stream, before disordered turbulence breaks out. Climate is about fluid flow and mixing in atmosphere and ocean, so obviously chaotic turbulence will be the rule. Thus the onset of chaos is not really so important. No – what’s interesting is the opposite, where the degree of turbulent chaos reduces – downward toward the border between chaotic and linear, where the interesting and important phenomena of emergent pattern arise. Mathematically, turbulence is chaos with a huge number of dimensions to its phase space. Moving from turbulence back toward borderline chaos means reducing dimensions. In the atmosphere and ocean this brings about the emergent spatiotemporal pattern that defies explanation by traditional linear models. In Linearland “we can’t explain why climate is changing”, but in the real chaos-emergent world, we can.

Two things “de-dimensionalize” chaos: external periodic forcing (15, 16) and internal feedback (17, 18). In climate these both provide the dimensional haircut that moves the system from turbulence to low-dimensional chaos and emergent pattern. Thus feedbacks lead not to runaway change but to oscillations, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The AMO is linked to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) that is driven by the salinity-downwelling feedback operating in the far north east Atlantic. Likewise the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is based on the excitability of the Bjerknes feedback (19) coupling the equatorial trade winds with Peruvian coast deep upwelling. The oceans are also subject to periodic astrophysical forcing from the annual cycle (20), and lunar and solar oscillations. Feedback driven excitability of the ocean combined with external periodic forcing, converts chaos into continuous change and oscillation in climate on many timescales up to millennial.

What if it’s all good?

CO2 might warm the climate. The null hypothesis that chaos-emergence is capable of causing recent climate changes, doesn’t mean it is responsible. However, CO2 warming orthodoxy has an evidence problem. It is an inductive hypothesis based on optical phenomena, conceived in disregard of climate history, a source of deductive confirmation or refutation. There are serious problems for CO2 alarmism in the climate record, such as the lag of many centuries between temperature changes and CO2 changes during the glacial Pleistocene (last 3 million years; 21). It’s hard for the cause to follow the effect. Further back in deep time there are also severe mismatches of CO2 and temperature, at an ice age 444 million years ago occurring with high atmospheric CO2 (22) and at later Paleozoic glaciations (23).

There are enormous benefits to global plant growth of enriched atmospheric CO2 (24) which directly enhances leaf photosynthesis (25). Satellites are seeing global greening and shrinking deserts.

It may be hard to imagine a hypothesis as powerfully entrenched as climate carbon doom, being wrong. But to stay true to science we must never close our hearts to wonder and surprise. It’s still possible that, on the planet of the humans (26), “all manner of things will be well.” (27)


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  23. Soreghan GS, Soreghan MJ, Heavens NG (2019) Explosive volcanism as a key driver of the late Paleozoic ice age. Geology. Jul 1; 47(7): 600-604.
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  25. Haverd V, Smith B, Canadell JG, Cuntz M, Mikaloff-Fletcher S, Farquhar G, Woodgate W, Briggs PR, Trudinger CM (2020) Higher than expected CO2 fertilization inferred from leaf to global observations. Global change biology. Apr; 26(4): 2390-2402.
  26. Michael Moore (2020) Planet of the Humans.
  27. Julian of Norwich (1373) Revelations of Divine Love.

8 thoughts on “Climate Pandemonium!

  1. Hello Phil,
    They always say; well, if it’s not anthropologic CO2 then what is it?

    I have been working on this misguided and disputatious climate change dilemma for over ten years now. But I have approached this problem from a rather unorthodox direction. As you know, the proponents of this have only that one precarious toehold, that the warming that started at the end of the Little Ice Age is concurrent with the industrial development of the modern age.

    My primary interest in this though has always been about geology. And the current model of plate tectonics being limited to just being a kinematic model seemed to me as a rather large red flag that there existed a huge deficit of understanding about not only the science of plate tectonics but the possible connection it has to climate. And that the two may be simply the byproduct of a very primary phenomenon at work that produces periodic plate movement energy with the variable and quite periodic climate history, shown in the proxy records, as the telltale sign of when these thermal pulses occurred.

    My background is in mechanical and electrical systems, and the observed plate movement of the Earth seemed something that could be broken down to a very simple model where the individual mechanisms can be sorted out and placed in their respective positions, and then accordingly, the predictions that the model made will in turn be found in the available field research observations to validate the model’s predictive abilities.
    This turned out to be very successful, and that almost immediately the model was predicting the observations that had been sitting in some cases for years in contradiction to current models of convection and the many plate movement mechanisms now in debate.

    It is a commonly known fact that the Earth and Sun are mutually inductively coupled. And this link also indicates a correlation between solar magnetic intensity and climate.

    Click to access fs-0095-00.pdf

    “An early association between sunspots and terrestrial phenomena was the observation that the number and intensity of aurora borealis sightings were greatest during sunspot maxima when the sun was most active (active sun), and lowest during sunspot minima (quiet sun). Another terrestrial observation was that the Maunder Minimum coincided with the coldest part of the Little Ice Age.”

    What is even more remarkable is this correlation extends to the historic Japanese earthquake records. To be exact, at the end of the Little Ice Age the records that the Japanese have so carefully compiled show an abrupt increase in activity continuing to the present age.

    There were only five 8.0 earthquakes noted in Japanese records during the 265 years (1603-1868) of the Edo period. As opposed to the 11 quakes that occurred in the much shorter 161 years since 1850 (2011 Great Sendai). This works out to one single 8.0 earthquake every 53 years on average for the Edo period vs one single 8.0 earthquake every 15 years on average for the period that followed it to the most recent events.

    But what could be the connection between solar, climate and seismic phenomena?

    The answer is actually quite simple; it’s just that the current climate and geologic science communities have the incorrect model for Plate Tectonics to actually understand it. The Sun and Earth’s magnetic field generators are mutually inductively coupled, this means the Earth’s inner and outer core will respond thermally to the varying magnetic field strength of the two coupled generators. This thermal expansion/contraction requires the mantle to respond in kind, as is seen in the Japanese records. The mantle’s thickness imposes immense strain energy differential forces to its outer surface (earthquakes) that causes mantle’s surface to be stretched and torn, releasing strain energy as heat (climate warming) into the oceanic basins and volcanic boundaries (mid-ocean ridges). The current increase in climate temps and earthquakes began when the solar magnetic energy began to increase at the end of the Little Ice Age.

    When the Sun and Earth’s magnetic field generator’s energies eventually lower and the mantle subsides again, the real source of the Earth’s plate movement energy is revealed, these mantle oscillations are actually documented in the available field research;

    Mantle thermal pulses below the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and temporal variations in the formation of oceanic lithosphere
    Enrico Bonatti*†‡, Marco Ligi*, Daniele Brunelli*†, Anna Cipriani‡, Paola Fabretti*, Valentina Ferrante*†, Luca Gasperini* & Luisa Ottolini§

    “A 20-Myr record of creation of oceanic lithosphere at a segment of the central Mid-Atlantic-Ridge is exposed along an uplifted sliver of lithosphere. The degree of melting of the mantle that is upwelling below the ridge, estimated from the chemistry of the exposed mantle rocks, as well as crustal thickness inferred from gravity measurements, show oscillations of ,3–4 Myr superimposed on a longer-term steady increase with time. The time lag between oscillations of mantle melting and crustal thickness indicates that the solid mantle is upwelling at an average rate of ,25mmyr, but this appears to vary through time.”

    So, we can currently observe that there has been an increase in the rate and intensity of the Japanese earthquakes since the end of the Little Ice Age up to the most recent events. And that this most recent period coincides with what is now observed as an activation of the largest rift zone on the planet that until recently was inactive and largely ignored as a substantial geologic system.

    1. Researchers find major West Antarctic glacier melting from geothermal sources

    “According to his findings, the minimum average geothermal heat flow beneath Thwaites Glacier is about 100 milliwatts per square meter, with hotspots over 200 milliwatts per square meter. For comparison, the average heat flow of the Earth’s continents is less than 65 milliwatts per square meter.”

    2. Previously unsuspected volcanic activity confirmed under West Antarctic Ice Sheet at Pine Island Glacier

    “”Our finding of a substantial heat source beneath a major WAIS glacier highlights the need to understand subglacial volcanism, its interaction with the marine margins and its potential role in the future stability of the WAIS,” they write in the Nature Communications article.””

    “They also note that volcanic activity could be increasing the rate of collapse of the Thwaites Glacier, which is adjacent to the Pine Island Glacier.”

    “A complete collapse of the Thwaites Glacier could significantly affect global sea levels, according to scientists. The Thwaites already drains an area roughly the size of the state of Florida, accounting for about 4 percent of global sea level rise — an amount that has doubled since the mid-1990s.”

    Click to access SP461.7.full.pdf

    3. A new volcanic province: an inventory of subglacial volcanoes in West Antarctica

    “West Antarctica hosts one of the most extensive regions of stretched continental crust on the Earth, comparable in dimensions and setting to the East African Rift System and the western USA’s Basin and Range Province”

    4. Geodynamic models of the West Antarctic Rift System: Implications for the mantle thermal state
    5. Heat Flux Distribution of Antarctica Unveiled

    6. Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet
    “After the team had collated the results, it reported a staggering 91 previously unknown volcanoes, adding to the 47 others that had been discovered over the previous century of exploring the region.”

    “The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland.”

    “Geologists say this huge region is likely to dwarf that of east Africa’s volcanic ridge, currently rated the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.”

    It is quite significant that this sudden increased activation of the planet’s largest active volcanic province containing the planet’s largest active rifting zone has occurred simultaneously with the climate change phenomenon.

    This new model is a complete dynamical plate tectonic model that makes rigorous predictions of past and present climate and geologic movement including mountain formation, subduction, and many more phenomena, the chapter on the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is particularly rigorously predictive but you will just have to go to my site and read it for yourself.

    Plate Tectonics: A history of a changing climate through geologic forcing.

    Please feel free to contact me with and questions about this model and keep up the good work.
    Marc Linquist

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marc
      Thanks for your detailed comment.
      Magnetic fields show interesting correlations with some climate phenomena.
      However the climate system has strong active internal dynamics, based on the ocean with its huge heat capacity and varying mixing processes over long (up to milllenial) time scales. So astrophysical forcings might elicit certain patterns, but the energy comes from the ocean (an “excitable medium” in chaotic-nonlinear dynamics). Milankovich glacial-interglacial entrainment is an example. But I try to keep an open mind of course.

      As for volcanoes – I’m a little skeptical of their role mainly because they’re the go-to explanation for carbon-alarmist revisionist climate reconstructions of the past. Do they need it warmer? Volcanoes emit CO2. Do they need it cooler? Volcanoes emit sun-blocking aerosols. I think that generally volcanoes have small and transient effect on climate. Please see:


      • Thanks for responding Phil.
        No, I don’t mean to imply that volcano’s are a cause of this warming, they are just a result, or predicted observation, of a geologic mechanism that provides this planet’s plate tectonic movement and variable climate history. Imagine that during the glacial periods, seen in the graph you showed in your post above, that the cause of the cooling was simply that the divergent boundaries around the world were not as active as they are right now. Imagine that the entire Mid-Atlantic Ridge was not operating as the massive heat exchanger that it does right now. What this new model shows is that the Earth’s mantle oscillates on 3-4 million year periodicities.
        This study below is one of the most important scientific discoveries for geology and climate.

        Mantle thermal pulses below the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and temporal variations in the formation of oceanic lithosphere
        “A 20-Myr record of creation of oceanic lithosphere at a segment of the central Mid-Atlantic-Ridge is exposed along an uplifted sliver of lithosphere. The degree of melting of the mantle that is upwelling below the ridge, estimated from the chemistry of the exposed mantle rocks, as well as crustal thickness inferred from gravity measurements, show oscillations of ,3–4 Myr superimposed on a longer-term steady increase with time. The time lag between oscillations of mantle melting and crustal thickness indicates that the solid mantle is upwelling at an average rate of ,25mmyr, but this appears to vary through time.”

        This beautiful observation by Bonetti et al. is the key to unlocking the variable climate history of the planet. The interpretation and prediction by this model of that paper by Bonetti is that these cooler inward phases of the mantle oscillation cycle, the “The time lag“ periods, that occur between the outward portions of the “oscillations of mantle melting” when the “solid mantle is upwelling”, would allow the periodic cooling of the surrounding crust/mantle boundary areas, while of course the periods of “mantle melting” would in contrast inject a sizable thermal content into the crust/mantle boundary areas. This would thus allow this model to predict that the observations would show evidence of very regular temperature cycles in the historic paleoclimate temperature records going back through Earth’s geologic history.

        This paper also predicts and will show using available Japanese earthquake records that the “Mantle thermal pulse” that is currently moving the divergent boundaries apart at this time was far less active during the Solar Maunder Minimum, also known as the “prolonged sunspot minimum”, and was also concurrent to the time of the Little Ice Age, thus showing that the model accurately portrays the observable world by showing that solar magnetic, plate tectonic and climate phenomena are closely connected and timed to each other.

        This idea in a nutshell, based on the observation of the palio-magnetic record, is that the Sun’s magnetic field generator changes in intensity over million year time scales, and that the solar magnetic field generator imposes these changes into the Earth’s own magnetic field generator. This commonly understood process as you know is called mutual inductive coupling. What is interesting is this increase and decrease in magnetic flux is proportional to the creation of current and field within the Earth’s field generator, which the evidence will show imposes molecular level thermal expansive and contractive forces on the core/outer core materials, and in turn will of course impose this displacement energy into the surrounding mantle. Creating those “mantle thermal pulses” that were observed by Bonetti et al.

        And due to the mantle’s tremendous size differential, this resultant strain energy “mantle melt” may be small in regards to that comparison to the overall mantle size, but would none the less impose its comparative larger periodic thermal content onto the much smaller oceanic crust, ocean and atmospheric thermal content that lie immediately above it. This mechanism provides a very precise and abrupt thermal source at specific and predictable areas of the mantle’s surface at distinct times such as glacial periods and even shorter periods like the LIA. Those Japanese earthquakes spiked immediately after the LIA and continued to the present time. Those earthquakes are when the mantle is incrementally responding to the increase in solar magnetic energy that occurred after the Solar Maunder Minimum. Due to the mutual inductive coupling of the solar and planetary magnetic fields the inner and outer cores will thermally expand and contract as the energy flux changes, the mantle is in turn put under strain from the thermal expansive increase. The mantle’s thickness is what allows such a small outward movement to be multiplied through the inverse square rule to produce surface tearing and decompression melting of specific mantle surface areas like the mid ocean ridges and hotspots like Yellowstone.

        This model makes a very long and accurate series of predictions of observations of geologic movement, climate forcing and solar magnetic energy flux all being tied together in a very comprehensive understanding of how this planet operates. The current plate tectonic model is only a kinematic model while this one is a true dynamic model that can explain a wide range of currently unsolved questions about plate movement dynamics. If by chance you would want to read a minimal amount of content and still get an idea of the model’s abilities to make predictions of observations, I would suggest reading the first 8 pages and also page 22, 26, and then especially page 28 (Mid-Atlantic Ridge) where the model can really show its abilities. The predictions that are made on page 28 are very important in that they are simply the sum of the application of this idea to some very extraordinary and as of yet unexplained observations that have been gathered in some rather extraordinary research papers.
        Thanks again Phil.
        Plate Tectonics: a history of a changing climate through geologic forcing.


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