Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is Anthropogenic Global Warming Real?

I'm going to try to get back to some posting, at least on Thursdays...

Some of the things I am interested in these days are politics, environment (global warming), economics, taxes, and mostly, of course, LIBERTY.

I have been participating in a long string of comments on a David Whitehouse column that appeared in the December, 2007 issue of The New Statesman. In the article, Mr. Whitehouse, a former science editor for the BBC, discusses how global average temperatures since 1998 have been flat, and even have a slight downward trend. This is, of course, heresy to those who religiously cling to the theory that CO2 emissions from human activities—namely the burning of fossil fuels— are mostly responsible for a rise in average global temperatures since the industrial age began. Or so goes the theory. Mark Lynas, who is The New Statesman's current environmental editor wrote a rebuttal piece, where after the comment thread from the original David Whitehouse comment thread continued. Mr. Lynas, of course, pilloried Mr. Whitehouse's position.

But a very curios thing began to happen on these comment threads. Many of us who were skeptics of Anthropogenic (human induced) Global Warming (AGW), but fairly open minded about it began to learn a lot about the science behind both supporters and skeptics of the theory of AGW. In the end, the thread was closed after a combined 3000+ comments! However, the thread will hopefully be continued at Harmless Sky.

I wrote a rejected column for a major publication, and will reprint it here for some additional background:

Global warming caused by human activity is a fact. Or is it? If you read most mainstream media publications, human-induced, or “anthropogenic” global warming (AGW) is almost always presented as fact. The only problem is that the facts, once you really look into them, don’t support the current AGW theory.

The AGW view of global warming is that rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere as a result of the burning of fossil fuels traps heat that would otherwise escape to space, which causes the climate to warm. The fact that the climate has warmed over the last 150 years or so is not in dispute. However, when you take a good look at the mean global temperature (MGT) since the mid-1800’s—when reasonably reliable record-keeping began—the record shows that while MGT rose during that period, there were also declines. In fact, MGT rose from about 1860 to about 1880, then declined until roughly 1905, rose again from 1905 to 1940, then declined until about 1975, after which the MGT rose again until 1998. Since 1998, however, the global temperatures have remained flat and appear set to decline further.

Unfortunately for the AGW lobby, when you overlay CO2 emissions on the above timeline you find that they don’t match. CO2 emissions didn’t really start to increase dramatically until about 1950, which was when GMT was in a decline until 1975. The two prior warming periods (1860-1880 and 1905-1940) occurred before any significant amounts of CO2 were being emitted, so these warming periods were obviously caused by something other than CO2, but no one knows what caused them. Even the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), admits it doesn’t know what caused these prior warming periods. But then they go on to argue that the most recent warming (1975-98) must caused by CO2 emissions and not the unknown warming ‘driver’ that caused the earlier warming, because, essentially, nothing else explains it. It’s also worth noting that while the MGT stopped rising in 1998, CO2 emissions continued their rate of growth unabated, the Kyoto Treaty notwithstanding.

So to review, there were three periods of warming in the last 150 years or so, each followed by a cooling period. CO2 emissions were insignificant until about 1950, long after the first two warming periods were over and 10 years into the second cooling period. The third warming period began in about 1975, and since no one at the UN can think of anything else that could be causing this third warming cycle, CO2 must be the culprit.

The scary part of all this is the fact that governments around the world want us to ‘reduce our carbon footprint’, and have instituted ‘carbon taxes’ and other very economically unsound cures for a problem we likely didn’t cause, nor are likely to be able to fix. And many of the AGW ‘cures’ will cost hundreds of billions of dollars that could be much better used on problems we can fix.

But if CO2 emissions are not the cause of global warming, what is causing it? If you’ve done any reading at all on the subject of climate change recently, you’ll have heard of other possibilities: solar activity is one. Interestingly, when you overlay solar activity onto the MGT graph, they fit very nicely, especially when compared with CO2 output. The warming also seems to correlates with El Niño years, and something called Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which is related to El Niño-La Niña phenomenon in the eastern Pacific. The PDO is a swing from cool to warm ocean currents in the Pacific, which greatly affects global climate. Recently, scientists have discovered that the PDO has begun a swing to the cooling phase, and have predicted at least 10 years of cooling!

I am not a scientist, nor a statistician. But I can read, and I can reason. The forces behind the AGW argument are large, powerful, and deeply entrenched in their positions. Billions of dollars and many reputations are at stake. Many who support the notion of AGW are ‘green’ in many other ways, and often tend to be liberal in their politics. And many of those people have ‘just known’ that mankind has been for decades harming the planet, and the AGW theory validates—in their mind—these long-held beliefs. They see it as an opportunity to justify new taxes and regulation, bigger government, and less freedom, all in the name of ‘saving the planet’.


[I learned very much on this subject from the many brilliant contributors to the New Statesman David Whitehouse and Marc Lynas comment threads [linked above].]

1 comment:

J Bonington Jagworth said...

I' a bit late to this, but enjoyed reading your rejected piece. It is cogent and concise and deserves a wider audience. I suspect it may get one eventually (when we finally reach the 'I told you so' phase) but those warmers are not going to go down without a fight, especially when the evidence becomes irrefutable. Cornered rats and all that... :-)