The Only Constant is Change
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
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.
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?