Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Only Constant is Change

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell

I will strive here to speak only from the knowledge that I have gained researching this subject from a completely impartial perspective. At heart I am a scientist, so the results are what matter not any preconceived notion that I may have had going in. I will say that I tend to slant towards skepticism whenever wild and controversial claims are made without a substantial evidence supporting them. Big claims require big evidence is a great rule to go by.

So I will interject myself into the Climate Change / Global Warming debate briefly here. Several years ago I became somewhat interested in the subject, and went back and forth a bit between being a true believer in it, to pure skepticism. I rented an Inconvenient Truth and was just mortified by one sided manipulation of the data to try to prove a point. Pretty much all of the graphs used were completely unacceptable from a scientific perspective. Too many problems to mention here, but some of the most glaring were not showing any scales for the graphs, and splicing data from different sources together without properly noting it. After seeing this movie, I really wanted to find out for myself if Global Warming was an issue because the movie did not convince me of anything other than Gore is a tool, and I already knew that.

So I researched the issue from a scientific perspective, and the overwhelming evidence is completely against Anthropic Global Warming. If the debate is over as many would want you to believe, then the Global Warming Alarmists have already lost. The evidence is simply not in their favor no matter how you look at it today.

The argument is that increased CO2 levels from burning fossil fuels by human activity will cause runaway increases in temperature due to the "Greenhouse Effect". The increased temperature of the earth will cause glaciers and ice caps to melt. This will lead to sea level rises and widespread flooding. The high temperatures will lead to widespread droughts, crop failures and loss of life due to disease and famine. Unless something is done now to reduce CO2 emissions all of this is inevitable in the next 100 years or so as runaway warming takes hold.

These are extraordinary claims. Is there extraordinary evidence? Since we have been pumping CO2 in ever increasing amounts into the atmosphere since the beginning in the early 1900s we should have some nice data to look at. So below is my interpretation of the data. I will not use any charts or raw data to prove my point. All of this is readily available on the Internet. Just Google a topic and see for yourself. Both sides of this issue tend to mold the data in their own direction so be aware of the source.

Global Mean Temperature Record

This is often used as the primary evidence supporting Global Warming. There is a history of weather stations going back to around 1880 located around the world. There is pretty good coverage in the US for most of the record, while world wide coverage was weak early, but has improved overtime. The idea is to take the surface temperature of the earth at equal locations around the globe, and using the min and max temps for the day to come up with a mean temperature for the earth on a daily basis. The stations are not set up in a perfect grid, but still produce some useful data. In the global data a warming trend of about .6 to .8C is seen over the 125 year period. There are significant issues with the global data. Because there is a lack of stations in the distant past, a bunch of this chart has been reconstructed. Trends from today are pushed back into the data. Also, many of the sites have large manual "corrections" made to the data. After making corrections as large as -2C the data is still used to show the trend. The US data is the cleanest, and it shows almost no warming trend by itself (.2 to .3C) 1880 to present. If you took at just the raw US data since 1880 (removing all manual corrections to the data), there is no warming trend in the US at all since 1880. It is very interesting how the world has warmed up in the last 125 years, but not the US.

Recent trends in this data set, are also not good for the Global Warming advocates. The earth has been in a steady cooling trend since 1998. In 2007 the cooling trend accelerated with a drop of .6C in global mean temperature in a single year. That drop alone just about eliminates the entire warming anomaly of the last 125 years. Now I will not argue that a single year of data means anything, but it is very interesting that 100 years of pumping CO2 in the atmosphere, with most of it in the very recent past as the world developed has brought us to a temperature very near the long term mean. If CO2 was causing runaway warming, we should see it in the data, but it is simply not there.

Melting Glaciers and Ice Caps

The image most associated with Global Warming is the melting of a glacier. Let me state this fact. Glaciers have always melted, and always will melt. They melt at the bottom and accumulate at the top. If your camera is at the bottom you will see melting, and ice cleaving into the sea. If you put your camera at the top you will see snow falling, accumulating, and slowly turning to ice. The melting makes for a more interesting picture. What is important is called the "Mass Balance" of a glacier or ice shelf. How much is the overall mass of ice changing over time. With the exception of Greenland and Antarctica, the world's glaciers have had a negative mass balance for several hundred years. Interestingly this trend began long before CO2 was added to the atmosphere by man. Since we are coming out of the "Little Ice Age" it makes sense that the smaller worldwide glaciers should be in retreat. Fortunately, nearly all of the Earth's ice is located in Antarctica and Greenland and not in isolate glaciers. They love to show you pictures of these glaciers melting as well. What they don't want to tell you is that the Mass Balance of Greenland and Antarctica has been positive since we began properly measuring it about 20 years ago. While the edges may be shrinking a bit, the middle is getting thicker every year. With most of the ice in the middle and not on the edges, the total amount of ice is increasing. The pressure from the added ice in the center accelerates the flow on the edges where the ice meets the sea. This is all normal stuff. Ice is simply forming faster than it is melting on the earth overall today, and that is a problem for the Global Warming Camp.

Sea Level Rise

The sea level has been rising at a steady pace for over 10,000 years, as we exited the last ice age. When analyzed closely, the sea rise trend is actually decelerating a bit over the last 50 years. There have been wild predictions for sea level rise associated with Greenland or Antarctica melting, but as I said above, that is simply not happening. Antarctica has had a constant ice sheet for the 30 million years since it broke of Africa. As long as it is in the area of the south pole it will accumulate ice. 20 million or so years from now if Antarctica drifts into warmer waters, we can start to worry about rising sea levels. Every time you here someone talk about dramatic sea level rise, ask them where the water is going to come from. Its not currently coming from Greenland or Antarctica, and has not came from Antarctica in 30 million years, and this where nearly all of the ice on earth is. Sea ice itself like that found in the artic has zero effect on sea levels weather present in large quantities or completely melted away. Though melting of sea ice would tend to lower sea levels by lowering the temperature of the surrounding water.

CO2 Science

Some quick facts about CO2. It is highly water soluble. About 100 times more soluble than Oxygen. The ocean readily sinks CO2 even though it is just a minute fraction of the atmosphere. Doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, doubles the oceans ability to sink it. More than 1/2 of all CO2 produced by man has already been sunk (dissolved) by the ocean, and it can sink 100 times more without blinking an eye. Current CO2 levels today are at historical low levels if you look back on the scale of millions of years. The C02 that we are releasing today is CO2 that was sunk by the earth earlier from the atmosphere in the past. The earth is constantly sourcing and sinking CO2 to the atmosphere, and the annual amounts from natural processes dwarf the amounts added by humans. CO2 is not a pollutant. C02 is good for plant life. Greenhouse warming from CO2 is overstated, and runaway greenhouse warming has no scientific basis. Historical trends show that C02 levels lag temperature levels.

What is really going on?

There is no such thing as an optimum climate on earth. The climate has always changed and always will change due to natural processes and feedback loops. Global Warming overstates our ability to alter the climate. Even if we could budge the climate somehow in one direction, the earth would correct it overtime using a much more powerful lever than CO2 emissions. The record of recent warming is at best highly questionable, and has ended in a ten year recent cooling trend against a backdrop of near-term record high CO2 levels. There is substantial evidence for the accumulation of ice mass on Antarctica and Greenland in the recent past contrary to what the Global Warming Alarmists will say. Natural cycles in the intensity of the sun, and the earth's distance from the sun play a much larger role in median earth temperature than is given credit. The recent earths temperatures follow the sun activity very closely and point to continued short term cooling of the earth. We might need to start getting on the global cooling bandwagon, and see if there are ways we can increase our CO2 production to stop it. Ice age anyone?



At 4:14 PM, Blogger Lifesagrind said...

Very nice write up. I've had a similar point of view for a while now.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Fuel55 said...

To an intellectual - a brain and intelligent thought always prevails over rhetoric. Well said sir.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger JC said...

Congrats, you've been awarded Skeptic of the Week at Skeptical Science (a page listing the skeptic arguments you used along with links to what the science actually says can be found here.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger jjok said...

One of the most difficult aspects of GHG arguments is trying to conflict with those that believe in global warming.

It's like dealing with a religion.

Or a cult.

JC is one of their kings/popes, I would guess.

If you can believe it, I am currently working on a project that will be capturing my company's carbon footprint. All so we can find out how much GHG's we're responsible for.

And I have been a skeptic of global warming for some time. Conflict of interest? No, because I think doing a carbon footprint means my company will be more conscious of what it is doing negatively to the environment....regardless of global warming.

Blinders, a very good argument throughout......thanks for the great read.

At 9:57 PM, Blogger Uncle Chuck said...

So does this mean I can stop recycling and continue smoking weed?

At 10:06 PM, Blogger Ryverrat said...

I am definately on the sceptical side of the global warming argument.

Well written

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Easycure said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5:24 AM, Blogger Easycure said...

Thanks for writing down many of my thoughts for me.

There always has been and will always be a "sky is falling" crowd. They can believe what they want as long as my taxes aren't affected.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Great stuff, Blinders. I've also always thought that if there ever was a crisis regarding rising sea level or global warming, we would be able to address it by our rapidly developing technology by the time we reached a crisis point.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I think many people in Minnesota would look at someone funny if they claimed Global Warming was even occurring.

Especially these guys...


At 10:51 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

The best part of all this is that the global cooling scenario has now been turned into just another component of the whole "global warming" argument, thanks to movies like The Day After Tomorrow and the fewlish Al Gore movie. He should stick to what he really knows as fact (inventing the internet) and not all this silly self-serving speculation.

A nice attempt at branching out, Blinders. Looking forward to some more craziness here.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger D said...

The Global Warming people are just using the same strategy that everyone else uses to get the publics attention. The sky is falling, the sky is falling. WMD, WMD, we are not safe, we are not safe.

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smart work about global warming. I have also a blog which give information about cause of global warming.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Astin said...

I find it interesting that you take the US readings as the base here. If they are different than the rest of the world's measurements, then does that not make it the anomalous reading that should be discarded?

I'm a bit cautious on relying on the data from the most industrialized nation in the world with the biggest conflict of interest when compiling data.

That said, I'm not one for the alarmist arguements, but I think that combating the man-made effects of climate change is better on the whole for us than marginalizing them.

Even if global warming is nothing more than a hippie fabrication (which I think would be an extreme view), urban pollution, environmental effects on health, pollution in 3rd world countries, and other negative effects of ignoring environmental responsibility are evident. If focusing on the battle against global warming achieves a reduction in these problems as a side-effect, then perhaps it is worthwhile.

Unfortunately, until recently, the loudest voices were often woefully uneducated. Focusing on the rainforests as the "lungs of the Earth" was ridiculous. CaCO3 in the oceans works as a much better reducer of CO2, as you stated. That's just one example of many.

At 5:05 PM, Blogger mrbossman said...

Very well written, but I have to take issue with the fact that this is essentially an opinion piece. You don't cite anything. You have no more claim to the truth than Al Gore does standing on a cherry picker next to a 50 foot graph with no scaling.

The fact that you would imply you hold the truth tells me that while you might be a "scientist at heart" you understand very little about the scientific method. Very few reputable scientists would ever say they had the truth or say that anything has been proven. Scientists are more often to refer to the "preponderance of evidence", and the preponderance of evidence supports the idea that the climate is changing and that it's likely the result of man (see NAS report from 2006).

The question of course becomes do these changes pose any threat to the earth. This question probably can't be answered with data until a considerable amount of damage is done, but wouldn't the most reasonable approach involve minimizing the potentially harmful contribution man has made on climate change?

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

Mr. Bossman,

I did not cite any sources because both sides cherry pick the sources in their favor, and I did not want to do that. I could have put in 100s of links supporting my arguments, but I would prefer people who are interested in the subject do like I did and see what information is out there for themselves. If you link through to JC's site it is a great example of how you can link to every web page that backs up your argument while completely ignoring all of the facts that destroy your case. Anyone who looks at this impartially will see that there is not enough evidence to make these doom and gloom claims with any amount of confidence.

At 2:44 AM, Blogger Chiropractic Marketing said...

Greenhouse effect is the gradual warming of the air surrounding the earth as a result of heat being trapped by environmental pollution.


Post a Comment

<< Home