why did I pursue this project?

Years ago, Al Gore’s exhortations to forgo fossil fuels were everywhere. We were told we have only 7 years to take action and if we don't, we will endure catastrophic global warming, starting with an ice-free arctic by 2020. To me, Gore's predictions had a certain inconceivability to them: I had formal training in mass and energy balances, including convection and radiation, so I had some sense of the energy requirements to melt thousands of square kilometers of ice (enormous). I also knew the effect of adding an absorbing gas to the atmosphere exponentially declines (Beer-Lambert Law) so each incremental unit has a smaller effect than the one before it. Later I would learn Daniel Kahneman describes this as having a ‘strong’ intuition, in contrast to a ‘clear’ intuition. It comes from having situation-relevant experience, but not having done any calculations yet to confirm.

When I read climate research papers, I was surprised that they all cited CO2 forcing values calculated using computers, not measured by satellites. Some people assured me there are time-series infrared radiation measurements of CO2 forcing so I spent several months searching for it, but why was it so hard to find? The causal link between global warming and CO2 would be easy to show with a spectral IR analysis. This means separating Earth's infrared emission into its individual 'colors' (via prism or diffraction grating) and measuring the change specifically at the wavelengths absorbed by CO2.

The problem was: the study didn’t exist. This was almost inconceivable to me, after all, there is a lot of money going into climate research:

  • The ten largest economies have major climate modeling efforts underway.

  • CMIP6 alone has >500 contributing researchers operating >12 supercomputers

  • There are about 100,000 climate change studies published each year, some on things as minor as the climate effects on one parasite on one mollusk in one ocean (not making this up).

Where was the fundamental empirical study verifying that higher CO2 produces the expected reduction in outgoing infrared radiation? It didn’t exist, which left me with a choice: join a chorus critical voices and announce no such study existed or create the missing study.

I read Montford’s book on the McKitrick/Macintyre vs Mann saga and it showed me something important: No matter how flawed an existing published study may be, it can't be discredited, it can only be replaced it with a better version. That is, people only listen to a critic if he or she offers a more-credible alternative. In my opinion, MM should have published their own temperature reconstruction using 100% of the available tree rings (not just the 5% selected by Mann) and then performed a principle components analysis without the data centering technique they found so problematic.

I knew that I personally had to bear the entire cost of the project because anyone perceived to even slightly criticize climate change science will have their funding record scrutinized to find out “whose pocket they are in.” I thought at the time this would cost <$300, but so far, the cost of programmers and external hard drives has run north of $1,800. If my paper is accepted to an open access journal, it will cost another $1,800 publish. I didn’t know authors paid to have their work published, I thought that was what subscribers did. People have offered to contribute, but I continue to turn them down.

Along the way, I acquired another motivation as I pursued this project. I came to know that kids age 12-15 were suffering from climate depressions because they are convinced they will die not from old age, but from heat on a scorched, desolate planet. Some adults felt similarly and opted not to bring children into the world: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-47442943

If this worry isn't empirically justified, then I wished to relieve their anxiety by providing a solid scientific measurements by which to check/verify climate models.

software timeline/cost

December 2017: Leon de Almeida hired on Freelancer.com for $250.

I ran the earliest (ver1) of the Heatwave program on my PC February 14, 2018.

March 2018: Downloaded over 200GB of AIRS data. Attempted to put summary radiances into Flourish.com, but it crashed.

April 2018: Leon went silent, no replies to 4 emails over a month. I went back to Freelancer.com to hire a new coder.

Hired Robert Amours, paid for his time through end of 2018 a total of $445 (software total: $695)

2019: Hired Nolan Nicholson at several different points for $50 (3/4/2019), $50 (7/2/2019), and $150 (10/20/2020) to work on the Python data processing notebook. Software cost total: $945

2019: Robert converted to hourly, would pay $421.84 over the next year on small upgrades. Software cost total: $1,366.84

Project moved into GitHub in November 2019. Further upgrades would be done as pull requests.

hardware timeline/cost

2019: Started with 4 TB Seagate external HDD. Quickly filled this up once using GCA>140. Total hardware cost: $99.

2019: Added an 8 TB Seagate external HDD. Total hardware cost: $238 (this drive would die in April 2020, but would be replaced for free by Seagate under warranty).

2019: Added a 10 TB Western Digital external HDD. Total hardware cost: $388

2020: Added a 12 TB Western Digital external HDD. Total hardware cost: $577

Currently I have 34 TB of storage space and I have 80% of all AIRS granules available for immediate access.

total project cost: $1943.84

100% out of my own pocket. I've taken no funding from any grants, organizations, or people.