Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Summary of My Position

To provide some background on the view that I will be presenting on this website, I'm describing my position on "global warming" and climate science in general in this post. Bear in mind that my position to the issue as a whole will vary over time, and that the attitude that this blog portrays will not be static.

My view is that changes in solar intensity are responsible for "climate change" that can not be related to volcanoes, meteorites, and other statistically random phenomenon on both large and small time-scales. I would argue that the sun has played a dominant role in climate on the scale of hundreds of millions of years, and even on the scale of ten years. This does not mean that humans have not changed the environment they inhabit, for the certainly have. An increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause and has caused warming; the question is: how much can be attributed to changes in solar intensity and how much can be attributed to changes in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere? My best guess is that changes in CO2 level had very little effect until around 1970; my best guess is 10-40% of warming since then has been caused by changes in CO2 concentration.

Over the past fifty years, humans have been playing more and more of a role in climate, but in much more diverse ways than just greenhouse gas emissions. Land use and pollution are altering the atmosphere in more complex ways than simply global surface temperatures. For example, the industrial boom that occurred post-WWII produced a large amount of pollutants, namely "aerosols," small particulates that reflect sunlight. This reflective property is called albedo, and aerosols contribute to global albedo in two ways. First, there is the direct effect of sunlight reflected by particulates in the atmosphere. Second, there is the indirect effect of cloud formation. The aerosol particulates act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), from which clouds form, yet they also alter the lifespan of clouds, and theorizing the net radiative effect from this indirect effect is extremely difficult. What we can say for certainty is that both the indirect and the direct effect cause a negative radiative effect on the Earth; in other words, pollution cools the Earth. But pollutants don't stay in the atmosphere indefinately. Over time, depending on the particular type of aerosol, the pollutant breaks down. This has been occurring since the end of WWII, and the level of aerosols in the atmosphere has been significantly decreasing. The changes in aerosol levels share responsibility with changes in solar intensity, atmospheric CO2 concentration, and shifting oceanic cycles for creating the hotly-debated change in surface temperature since 1970.

Yet, we should remember that just because something is anthropogenic (human in origin), it does not mean that it is bad. There is a case to be made that increased CO2 concentration will help plant growth, which fuels increased animal population. Although I am not knowledgeable enough on the topic to declare an opinion, The Oregon Petition Project, signed by 19,000 American scientists who would today be described as "deniers," reads,

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."
Hopefully this is an issue that I will be able to cover more thoroughly on this blog. So if increased CO2 concentrations might be a good thing, what about global warming? Why are we so certain that the global warming that the UN IPCC projects would be a bad thing. Now here's the irony: On April 28, 1975, Newsweek published an article entitled, "The Cooling World."
Strangely reminiscent of the modern global warming scare, this article focused on cooling that had occurred from 1942 to 1970 (a globally-averaged change of only .6 degrees Fahrenheit). The article predicted major food shortages (sound familiar?) and extreme weather (even more familiar?). It reads,
"Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in 13 U.S. states."
The article goes on to attribute this outbreak to global cooling, and thus we are able to infer that the activist community believes that temperatures below the 1942 average global surface temperature would be harmful to humans, while temperatures above would be fine. Well, temperatures stopped falling and began to increase, and soon the temperatures exceeded the 1942 high, causing the environmental activist community to cry out at the climatic chaos looming ahead.
There we have it - the environmental community believes that the temperature of 1942 is the optimal temperature. Ridiculous! Climate has always been changing, and climate will forever be changing. Sometimes these changes will better humanity and sometimes they will hurt, but either way, science has not identified any optimal temperature for climate, so until then, the media should stop with the apocalypse news stories about a 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature. NASA administrator Michael Griffin also shares my concern, and he told NPR:

"To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

Well said, Mr. Griffin.
The way the media, academia, and politicians have gone after the issue of global warming has been shameful. The use of the word "consensus" is particularly repulsive to me, yet society has accepted the false premise of a climate consensus, when in actuality, there is no validity to such an argument.
Yet, the idea continues, abundant in Western culture. Just recently, I attended a model UN conference in Philadelphia, and the guest speaker was involved with climate change at the UN. Of course, he couldn't help but lie to the thousands of students sitting in the auditorium, telling them that there is a "consensus" on climate change. Classes in high schools and universities are taught the "consensus" line - talk about stimulating intellectual diversity. . . .
A perfect example of hostility towards disention is the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen. Here's an excerpt from what she posted on her blog:
"If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn't agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns."
Alabama meteorologist James Spann fired back, saying,
"I have been in operational meteorology since 1978, and I know dozens and dozens of broadcast meteorologists all over the country. Our big job: look at a large volume of raw data and come up with a public weather forecast for the next seven days. I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them."
I won't bother making a case for the lack of "consensus," for I don't want to waste my time or yours, and I will be discussing many skeptical scientists in my future posts anyways.
In the media and government, skeptics have no voice. But here on the internet, we can express our views in the free exchange of ideas that Western culture has so successfully destroyed.
By the way - my next few posts will be introducing the debate. After that, I will begin to discuss more complex, less broad, scientific issues.


Adam said...

Well written, Carl. I am glad you are skeptical of what you are hearing from the mass media about this important issue. I look forward to keeping up with your blog as you seem to present a balanced viewpoint on the subject.

Mr. Van Auken

garg said...

Pollution and evolution, I think have gone together throughout the history of Earth.
Atmosphere of Earth was a reducing atmosphere consisting of methane etc. and devoid of oxygen to start with. This led to evolution of heterotrophic microbes in the begining. Gradually photosynthetic organisms evolved that started using sunlight to split water. Due to their activity, atmosphere of Earth gradually began to be POLLUTED WITH OXYGEN.
Totday,s oxygen-rich atmosphere supporting oxygen breathing organisms, including human beings is result of POLLUTIN OF ATMOSPHERE by soem organisms.
May be human activity will change the environment of Earth sufficiently to allow the evolution of some Post-Human species.
We may like it it or not, there is no logic in assuming that human species and environment most suited for it is the ultimate in evolutionary scheme of things.