A Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming

I am releasing version 1.0 of my Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming.  You may download the pdf (about 2.7 mb) from the link above or by clicking on the cover photo below.  In the next few days, I will also be posting an online HTML version as well as offering a printed version at cost.

Agw_cover_front_small

Update:  The HTML version is here, and the book can be purchased at cost through this link

The purpose of this paper is to provide a layman's critique
of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory, and in particular to
challenge the fairly widespread notion that the science and projected
consequences of AGW currently justify massive spending and government
intervention into the world's economies. This paper will show that despite good evidence that global temperatures
are rising and that CO2 can act as a greenhouse gas and help to warm the Earth,
we are a long way from attributing all or much of current warming to man-made
CO2. We are even further away from being
able to accurately project man's impact on future climate, and it is a very
debatable question whether interventions today to reduce CO2 emissions will substantially
improve the world 50 or 100 years from now. 

I am not a trained expert on the climate. I studied physics at Princeton University before switching my
major to mechanical engineering, where I specialized in control theory and
feedback loops, a topic that will be important when we get into the details of
climate change modeling. For over ten
years, my business specialty was market prediction and sales forecasting using
modeling approaches similar to (if far less complex than) those used in climate.

My goal for this paper is not to materially
advance climate science. However, I have
found that the global warming skeptic's case is seldom reported well or in any
depth, and I wanted to have a try at producing a fair reporting of the
skeptic's position.  I have been unhappy
with several of the recent documentaries outlining the skeptic's case, either
because they skipped over a number of critical issues, or because they
over-sold alternate warming hypotheses that are not yet well understood.  To the inevitable charge that as a
non-practitioner, I am not qualified to write this paper --I believe that I am
able to present the current state of the science, with a particular emphasis on
the skeptic's case, at least as well as a good reporter might, and far better
than most reporters actually portray the state of the science. Through this paper I will try to cite sources
as often as possible and provide links for those who are reading this online,
this report is best read as journalism, not as a scientific, meticulously
footnoted paper.

An outline of the paper is as follows:

Forward: What Are My Goals For This Paper

Chapter
1: Management Summary

Chapter
2: Is It OK to be a Skeptic?

Charges
of Bias

The
Climate Trojan Horse

The
Need to Exaggerate

Chapter
3: The Basics of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Theory

Chapter
4: The historical evidence

The
long view (650,000 years)

The medium view (1000 years)

The
short view (100 years)

Sulfates,
Aerosols, and Dimming

The
Troposphere Dilemma and Urban heat islands

Using
Computer Models to Explain the Past

Chapter
5: The computer models and predicting
the future

The
Dangers in Modeling Complex Systems

Do
Model Outputs Constitute Scientific Proof?

Econometrics and CO2 Forecasts

Climate
Sensitivity and the Role of Positive Feedbacks

Climate
Models had to be aggressively tweaked to match history

Chapter
6: Alternate explanations and models

Solar
Irradiance

Cosmic
Rays

Man's
Land Use

Chapter
7: The effects of global warming

Why
only bad stuff?

Ice
melting / ocean rising

Hurricanes
& Tornados

Temperature
Extremes

Extinction
and Disease

Collapse
of the Gulf Stream and Freezing of Europe

Non-warming
Effects of CO2

Chapter
8:  Kyoto and Policy Alternatives

Kyoto

Cost
of the Solutions vs. the Benefits: Why
Warmer but Richer may be Better than Colder and Poorer

Chapter
9: Rebuttals by AGW Supporters

Please feel free to download and share.  If you find errors, omissions, mistakes, gaps or anything else you would like to comment on, please email me at the address on the cover.  In particular, I have tried to be careful with copyrighted material, but if I have used any of your material without your consent, let me know ASAP and I will remove it.

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  • John

    Nicely done, Warren. Thank you!

    I hope you're standing by to fend off crazed Alarmists who will try to burn you at the stake for spouting such "heresy".

  • Yes, nicely done - one heck of a project, Warren; a lot of time and thought invested. Eighty-Two pages will take some time for us lessor souls to even read!

  • Excellent work!

    I just recommended that my readers from my site read this paper. I quickly read it and I was quite impressed. I will give it a longer review after I get a chance to really dig in but my short review can be found here: http://globalwarming-factorfiction.com/2007/07/02/a-skeptical-laymans-guide-to-anthropogenic-global-warming/

    Thank you very much for your effort, I can tell you really worked hard at it. Being a mechanical engineer by education, I could relate to much of what you wrote concerning computer modeling and feedbacks.

  • Cam

    Thanks! I'll be sure to go through it. At first glance, I like the rebuttals to the New Scientist's "myths" about climate change.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Very nice, thanks for going to all the work.

    I did notice that the Rebuttals section didn't address the function of CO2 concentration vs. warming effect. Motl seems pretty straighforward, but the folks at real climate responded to him here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument-part-ii/

    I've tried to wade through that, and the best I can figure is that they try to argue that more wavelengths of energy (i.e., a wider band) of energy is absorbed.

    That doesn't make sense to me. According to their illustration, they are claiming that "new" absorption at these wavelengths. But at those wavelengths, the absorption factors are several orders of magnitude lower than what is at the peak, and trailing off rapidly.

    So even if I believe them, I'm left thinking "So what?" It's like a guy with wads of $1,000 bills picking nickels off the street. And if we give him two more hands, he'll pick up pennies, too.

    Am I completely misconstruing them & the graph?

  • Anon E. Mouse

    Addendum to above:

    Their graph shows log(absorption factor) vs. wavelength.

    Absorption factor is defined as:

    "At any given wavelength, the amount of light surviving goes down like the exponential of the number of molecules of CO2 encountered by the beam of light. The rate of exponential decay is the absorption factor.

    When the product of the absorption factor times the amount of CO2 encountered equals one, then the amount of light is reduced by a factor of 1/e, i.e. 1/2.71282... . For this, or larger, amounts of CO2,the atmosphere is optically thick at the corresponding wavelength. If you double the amount of CO2, you reduce the proportion of surviving light by an additional factor of 1/e, reducing the proportion surviving to about a tenth; if you instead halve the amount of CO2, the proportion surviving is the reciprocal of the square root of e , or about 60% , and the atmosphere is optically thin. Precisely where we draw the line between "thick" and "thin" is somewhat arbitrary, given that the absorption shades smoothly from small values to large values as the product of absorption factor with amount of CO2 increases."

    I'm rather confused by this description of absorption factor. Are they arguing that it is not a 1/e relationship except at [CO2] > (1/AF)? Or, are they saying that it is always a 1/e relationship, and that for each doubling of ([CO2] * AF) you absorb 1/e as much CO2?

    They also say:

    " In fact, noting that the graph is on a logarithmic axis, the atmosphere still wouldn't be saturated even if we increased the CO2 to ten thousand times the present level.?

    Doesn't that undercut their own argument? If it takes 10,000 times as much to saturate, doesn't that mean that we won't saturate until we get 10,000 times the amount of CO2 in the air? Being that there's a fixed amount of energy hitting the earth at any one wavelength, doesn' that mean that CO2 isn't doing much at the wavelengths in question?

    I'm confused by their argument.

  • Sol

    Crazy thought I had yesterday. Given the state of uncertainty about the climate, isn't the rational response to global warming to work on installing a system of very large mirrors in space to help control the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth? It seems like it would compare favorably with the cost of cutting the entire planet's energy use down drastically, and has the big advantage of helping solve the problem whether or not the warming is anthropogenic. Not to mention if you did it right, it could also potentially help if global cooling became a problem....

  • You utter wacko - all that work and you still didn't address any of the science from within the body of IPCC literature. What did you hope to achieve? Mislead a handful of gullible bovines? Must be nice having so much time on your hands that you can afford to throw it away like that.

  • I have only read the table of contents so far, but if the material is based on what you have written on the blog, it is terrific of you to spend time putting it all together. Thank you!!

    As time goes on, please be careful of one trap: keep the emphasis on fair so that you remain credible. Otherwise, people can discredit you as simply a partisan apologist. You don't want to be like iraqbodycount, where they are double counting and using funny definitions.

  • Well wrote, Mr. Meyer. I'm posting about your post and linking to your blog in general.

    The science of AGW is open to debate, or should be as all science should be. But I fully empathize with your dislike of the bias, bullying and smear tactics shown by AGW supporters.

    I'm no climate scientist, or even trained in the physical sciences. What I am is a Biology grad. So I must say this: People are always willing to stretch the boundaries of scientific evidence to fit their beliefs or agenda.

    AGW is a nice little theory. To us skeptics, it just hasn't been proven and still has many holes and unanswered questions.

    But the Kyoto crowd just wave their haughty hands and dismiss us as ulteriorly motivated. AGW is a 'proven and undebatable fact', they say. If you don't believe it, you probably believe the Earth is flat too.

    Similarly, I find Darwinistic evolution to be a very elegant theory. But through my university education and my own research into the matter, I find that it hasn't been proven (to my level of reasonable doubt) and still has many holes and unanswered questions.

    But the Darwin crowd just wave their haughty hands and dismiss me as religiously motivated. Evolution is a 'proven and undebatable fact', they say. If you don't beleive it, you probably believe the universe revolves around the Earth too.

    So I say I don't believe in evolution and people call me a religious nut. I say I don't believe in AGW and people say I'm an oil-sponsored nut. I say, open your eyes and examine the facts without bias! And they say, shut up you biased quack.

    Science is getting rather tiresome. Music artistes get paid more anyway.

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/03/21/why-i-feel-about-global-warming-the-same-way-i-feel-about-evolution/

  • A Fair and Balanced Mainstream Reporter.

    CBS 4 Reporter Shomari Stone was praised on the “Schnitt Show,” a syndicated, moderately conservative talk-show, for his ground-breaking report on "Global Warming." ( http://cbs4.com/video/?id=34785@wfor.dayport.com )

    South Florida affiliate station 610 WIOD airs the show from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, Monday - Friday. On average, host Todd Schnitt has an estimated 800,000 listening audience across the country after scoring a huge deal XM Satellite radio.

    The Schnitt Show began praising Shomari Stone on Monday, May 21, 2007 at 4:00pm about his report on Global Warming.

    Schnitt said, “I have to give credit where credit is due. I have to highlight this individual. I am taking the time to reach out to a reporter, Shomari Stone, in Miami, he’s a CBS 4 WFOR reporter. Shomari did a news story on Global Warming. Instead of asking Hurricane Expert Dr. William Gray about hurricanes, he did a story about how Dr. Gray says humans ARE NOT causing global warming.” “Shomari Stone dared to expose the other side. He had the cahoonays.”

    “I have no idea what Shomari’s position is personally. I have no idea. But you’ve got to hand it to him for presenting the other side of the story. A rarity. He’s good. Good job Shomari Stone. I appreciated the diligence that you put into the report." "Finally, mainstream media, has a Dr., a professor that says, wait a sec, not so fast, on this annointed reason that’s been shoved down our faces. That’s all I ask for. Is just the other side of the debate. I’m not saying Al Gore should not present his stuff in "An Inconvenient Truth." I just like both sides of an issue presented. Fantastic report! Finally I can’t tell you the last time I saw something like that. I don’t think it’s been done.”

    You can watch CBS 4 Reporter Shomari Stone's Exclusive Global Warming Report by clicking or copy and pasting the following link:

    http://cbs4.com/video/?id=34785@wfor.dayport.com

  • Skeptic

    Wow. That was a great piece by Shomari Stone. I don't believe humans are causing global warming.

  • Anonymous

    Coyote. Thank you for posting the CBS story by Shomari Stone on your blog. I wish more reporters would present the other side of the global warming debate.

    Shomari Stone is a good reporter. He won an RTNDA Edward R. Murrow award in 2006 for the Air Marshal shooting at Miami International Airport. Good job Shomari Stone on exposing the other side of the global warming debate and congratulations on winning the Edward R. Murrow Award.

  • Mike

    I too am a scientist and truly appreciate the persuasive technical dissertation. But rest assured guys, attempting to challenge religious dogma with scientific argument is a fool’s errand. The one-world-government crowd holds all the cards: money, media, and the scientific establishment. To think that true ‘warmists’ really care about the planet is a bit naïve; it is all about curbing human liberty, squashing capitalism, and punishing America. What better way to consolidate power and steal the authority to control every human being’s behavior than a new global religion replete with threats of fire and brimstone and eternal damnation? The AGW religion is fast becoming the greatest single threat to human freedom since 1917 when so much of the world fell captive to the false promise of Communism. If Marx were still kicking, I’ll bet he’d love the irony of using a religion to create his global collective, to eliminate private property, and to control all means of production.

    Oh, you don’t think AGW is a religion?
    Deity: Mother Earth
    Beelzebub: America, Big Oil, and Capitalism
    Clergy: Holier than thou Al Gore and his many apostles
    Churches: UN and EU
    Scripture: “An Inconvenient Truth”
    Dogma: Modern Man (especially America) is evil and must do penance for sins of excess
    Congregation: Fearful and ignorant masses (like Sol above)that must accept everything fed to them on pure faith, since few are capable of dissecting the mystical science
    Heretics: Those who read these pages…

    See you at the stake!