The Heat Is On!

June 23, 2015



Global warming exists without question.  Our global temperature is rising (albeit very slowly).  The contention lies in whether blame ought to be assigned to humans (the so-called Anthropomorphic Global Warming, or AGW), to natural causes, or in point of fact, whether there is any blame to be had.

People have been so inundated by media reports that they treat AGW as a foregone conclusion; that it has assumed the same inertia which once possessed the notion that the universe turned around the planet Earth.  Galileo Galilei was declared a heretic and imprisoned, but it didn’t make him any less right that the Earth did in fact circled the Sun, and not the other way around.

Proponents of AGW like to say that there is a scientific consensus.  As John Christy, one of the lead author’s on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) once pointed out: “there was once a consensus that putrefaction caused scurvy”, but we now know that’s not true.

Non-experts, whether scientists or not, should not have their opinion given more weight than a true environmental scientist.  Several of the original authors of the IPCC report have taken issue with the way the results had been manipulated to promote a political polemic.  And no, polemic is not too strong a word.

Instead of collecting evidence to support their global warming theory, they instead rely on attacking opponents’ reputations, criticizing their research, and working behind the scenes to cut off the research funding of scientists that don’t agree.  Galileo would not be surprised by these tactics.

Both sides on this issue have been guilty of cherry-picking data—no one’s hands are entirely clean in this debate.  At least both sides have agreed that the damning hockey-stick graph was falsified and no one will use it anymore, but there’s still plenty of hyperbole flying around.

Acceleration of warming

Some AGW proponents say that not only is our planet heating up, but it’s heating up faster.  To them I say look at this chart.  The Antarctic ice record is what we call pure data because there is so little local phenomenon that can contaminate it.  The information is as pristine as when the snow first fell half a million years ago.

And what does it tell us?  Look closely and you’ll see that the rate at which our temperature is increasing is precisely the same angle as 135,000 years ago, even less than what it was 245,000 years ago, and at the same as it was 325,000 years ago.  There is absolutely nothing remarkable about what is currently happening to the Earth’s temperature.

The information we have tells us that the temperatures started climbing in the 1850s before the Industrial Revolution had a chance to have an impact.  The same information tells us that the heating slowed in 1945 during the post-war economic boom, staying in that slow mode almost until 1990, and then starting to pick up speed again.  Increased human activity and global warming seem to have nothing in common.

Computers want to Destroy the World

Computer climate models are never able to predict because they can’t be made to duplicate the past.  We know the starting conditions, program that into the computers and let them work.  They have never, ever managed to predict what we know happened.  Climate modelers tweak their programs, adjust their parameters, and still can’t make accurate “predictions” of our meteorological history.

Instead of relying on defective computer climate models that are extraordinarily unreliable, there is readily available, tangible evidence to support the idea that our global climate is completely typical.

The ice core records, drilled from Antarctica and Greenland, have little trapped bubbles of air inside from the date that the snow fell.  As we carefully slice these cores open, we can capture the gas and know precisely it was in the atmosphere at any time in history.

We also have available data from tree rings where each ring gives a history of the conditions during the year that that ring grew, and the peat bogs, which also give us excellent climate records.  Those records are topped off with the coral histories that tell us about the state of the sea at that time.

What do all these things tell us?

All these records make it perfectly clear that first the temperature rises, and then the CO2 levels follow 800 years afterwards.  Even when this information is presented clearly it still seems to be ignored.  It is not CO2 driving temperature change; it is CO2 levels being driven by temperature change.

But how can this be?  How can temperature changes cause CO2 levels to change?  To understand this, take three bottles or cans of your favourite carbonated beverage and place two in the refrigerator and let them cool for a few hours.  Take one of the cold ones, and open it.  Nothing much happens.  Take the other cold one, give it a little shake, and open it…  There is a little bit of foam as you open it, releasing the pressure, but not much else.  Give the warm container a little shake and open it…  Now there is a substantial difference.  Hmmm…Lots of foam and overflow.

What did we prove?  Cold water-based liquid holds on to Carbon Dioxide very well, but warm liquids do not.  If you leave the first bottle open on a counter and come back in a few hours, it has gone “flat” because as it warmed, much of the CO2 escaped.

The oceans work the same way.  They are Earth’s largest repository for CO2 and are part of the system that regulates the planet’s temperature.  When they cool, they absorb atmospheric CO2, and when they warm, they release it.  And of course this explains the 800 year lag between the time the temperature changes and the carbon dioxide levels start to change.

The oceans cycle top-to-bottom very, very slowly.  As Earth’s temperature increases the top layer of the ocean releases some CO2 until it is back in equilibrium.  As that water is cycled down, fresh seawater with more CO2 comes to the top.  It takes 800 years for the temperature change to impact the ocean.

Not the only one

If they’re being honest even partisan AGW scientists will admit that water vapor has a much larger impact on atmospheric temperature than CO2 ever will.  When our planet heats up there’s increased evaporation from the oceans.  This results in more cloud cover which reflects more sunlight away and cools a planet.  When we cool off we get less evaporation, fewer clouds, more sunlight can get through, and a planet warms a bit.  Our planet has been doing this for millions of years and working just fine.

Incidentally, if you look back at that chart from earlier you’ll see (along the bottom) what are called Interglacial Cycles.  Note where we’re sitting right now: near the usual peak just before another ice age starts.  So if you really want to worry about something, I’d worry about needing to buy a really heavy coat in about 200 years!

What Does Cause Global Warming?

There’s an old expression that goes:

“A Conclusion is where a scientist got tired of thinking”

All the energy on the planet comes, in one way or another, from the Sun.  Heat and pressure made petrochemicals.  Insolation (influx of sunlight) moves our water, moves our air, and drives our weather.  Waterfall electric generators are solar-powered; wind turbines are solar-powered; our ocean currents are solar-powered, and thus our wave-generators are solar-powered.

It only stands to reason that our planetary temperature is solar-powered.  If you look at this chart you can see the presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (yellow line) since a little before 1880 up until the year 2000.  And in comparison you can see the Arctic surface temperature.  There is no correlation.  On the other half of the chart you can see that same temperature range as compared to solar activity (red line).  The lower solar activity is, the cooler our planet; the higher the solar activity, the warmer our planet.  Except for some minor variances the same thing can be seen in this record which covers over 400 years.  Clearly it is the Sun which drives our planet’s temperature.

What should we do?

First of all don’t panic.  Shakespeare has already cautioned us against overreacting.  In the eponymously named play, Macbeth reminds us of something important.  I think one day we’ll all realize that carbon dioxide “struts and frets its hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing”.

On the other hand I have no claim to gifted foresight.  Perhaps, just perhaps, there may be something to this CO2 problem that hasn’t been revealed because of all the posturing and backstabbing.  I think it’s worthwhile to look at both sides of the argument and do some serious science.  The CO2 argument seems weak and contrived.  The Solar argument seems strong and convincing.  But ultimately, I’m still waiting for evidence that doesn’t rely on “…because I said so”.  How about you?





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