The 60-Second Climate Skeptic

I was trying to think about what I wanted to do for my last post in my recent orgy of global warming writing.  My original attempt to outline the state of the climate skeptic's case ballooned into 80+ pages, so there may be many people who rationally just have no desire to tackle that much material.  So I decided for this last post to try to select the one argument I would use if I had only 60 seconds to make the climate skeptic's case. But how do you boil down 80 pages to a few simple statements?

I'm not that interested in the Sun or cosmic rays -- they are interesting topics, but its dumb to try to argue we overestimate our understanding of man's impact on climate only to counter with topics we understand even less.  One of the reasons I wrote the paper in the first place was because I thought recent skeptical documentaries spent too much time on this subject.  And I would not get into tree rings or ice cores or other historic proxy data, though there is a lot happening in these areas.  I wouldn't even delve into the hysterical treatment of skeptics by man-made climate advocates  -- these are ad hominem issues that are useful to understand in a more comprehensive view but don't make for strong stand-alone arguments.

Anyway, here goes, in a logic chain of 8 steps.

  1. CO2 does indeed absorb reflected sunlight returning to space from earth, having a warming effect.  However, this effect is a diminishing return -- each successive increment of CO2 concentrations will have a much smaller effect on temperatures than the previous increment.  Eventually, CO2 becomes nearly saturated in its ability to absorb radiation.  The effect is much like painting a red room with white paint.  The first coat covers a lot of red but some still shows through.  Each additional coat will make the room progressively whiter, but each successive coat will have a less noticeable effects than the previous coat, until the room is just white and can't get any whiter.
  2. In the 20th century, the UN IPCC claims Earth's surface temperatures have increased by about a 0.6 degree Celsius (though there are some good reasons to think that biases in the installation of temperature instruments have exaggerated this apparent increase).  To be simple (and generous), let's assume all this 0.6C increase is due to man-made greenhouse gasses.  Some may in fact have been due to natural effects, but some may also have been masked by man-made sulfate aerosols, so lets just call man-made warming to be 0.6C. 
  3. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it is thought that man has increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations from 0.028% of the atmosphere to 0.038% of the atmosphere.  Since scientists often talk about the effect of a doubling of CO2, this historic rise in CO2 is 36% of a doubling.
  4. Using simple math, we see that if temperatures have risen 0.6C due to 36% of a doubling, we might expect them to rise by 1.67C for a full doubling to 0.056% of the atmosphere.  But this assumes that the rise is linear -- and we already said (and no one denies) that it is in fact a diminishing return relationship.  Using a truer form of the curve, a 0.6C historic rise for 36% of a doubling implies a full doubling would raise temperatures by about 1.2C, or about 0.6C more than we have seen to date (see chart below).   This means that the magnitude of global warming in the next century might be about what we have seen (and apparently survived) since 1900.
  5. Obviously, there is some kind of disconnect here.  The IPCC predicts temperature increases in the next century of 4-8 degrees C.  Big difference.  In fact, the IPCC predicts we will get a 0.5C rise in just 20 years, not 70-100.  Whereas we derived a climate sensitivity of 1.2 from empirical data, they arrive at numbers between 3 and 4 or even higher for sensitivity.  The chart below shows that to believe sensitivity is 3, we would have to have seen temperature rises due to man historically of 1.5C, which nobody believes. 

    So how do they get accelerating temperatures from what they admit to be a diminishing return relation between CO2 concentration and temperature? And for which there is no empirical evidence?  Answer:  Positive feedback.

  6. Almost every process you can think of in nature operates by negative
    feedback.  Roll a ball, and eventually friction and wind resistance bring
    it to a stop.  Negative feedback is a ball in the bottom of a bowl; positive feedback is a ball perched precariously at the time of a mountain. Positive feedback
    breeds instability, and processes that operate by positive feedback are
    dangerous, and usually end up in extreme states -- these processes tend to
    "run away" like the ball rolling down the hill.  Nuclear fission, for example, is a positive feedback process.  We should be happy there are not more positive feedback
    processes on our planet.  Current man-made global warming theory, however, asserts that our climate is dominated by positive feedback.  The IPCC posits that a small increase in temperature from CO2 is multiplied 2,3,4 times or more by positive feedbacks like humidity and ice albedo.
  7. There are three problems with these assumptions about positive feedback.  One, there is no empirical evidence at all that positive feedbacks in climate dominate negative feedbacks.   The 20th century temperature numbers we discussed above show no evidence of these feedbacks.  Two, the long-term temperature record demonstrates that positive feedbacks can't dominate, because past increases in temperature and CO2 have not run away.  And three, characterizations of stable natural processes as being dominated by positive feedback should offend the intuition and common sense of any scientist.
  8. An expected 21st century increase of 0.5 or even 1 degree C does not justify the massive imposed government interventions that will be costly both in dollars and lost freedoms.  In particular, the developing world will be far better off hotter by a degree and richer than it would be cooler and poorer.  This is particularly true since sources like an Inconvenient Truth wildly exaggerate the negative effects of global warming.  There is no evidence tornadoes or hurricanes or disease or extinction are increasing as the world warms, and man-made warming advocates generally ignore any potential positive effects of warming.  As to rising sea levels, the IPCC predicts only a foot and a half of sea level rise even with 4 or more degrees of warming.  Sea level rise from a half to one degree of warming would be measured at most in inches.

OK, so that was more than 60 seconds.  But it is a lot less than 80 pages.  There is a lot of complexity behind every one of these statements.  If you are intrigued, or at least before you accuse me of missing something critical, see my longer paper on global warming skepticism first, where all these issues and much more (yes, including tree rings and cosmic rays) are discussed in more depth.

  • jb

    Unfortunately, the response from the Gore-o-philes will be simply to ridicule you for not including methane, water vapor and the other greenhouse gasses in your list, demonstrating in their eyes that you have no idea what you're talking about.

    Similarly, the argument about positive feedbacks, while technically true, is also not compelling to them - Venus has experienced runaway global warming, so it can happen, and even a 0.01% chance of that happening here is, to some minds, unacceptable. (Heck, if I thought it was that high, it would be unacceptable to me as well) Also, you're falling into the weak anthropic bias - if a large-scale positive feedback system had occurred on Earth before, we would not be here to discuss it, so absense of evidence is not particularly compelling.

    Having said that, I do feel that as long as the effects of cloud cover are poorly understood, it is difficult to accept prophesies of doom and gloom with a straight face. Also, there is plenty of evidence, from Greenland most recently, that the Earth was much warmer in the past, which strongly suggests that there are negative feedbacks that we have yet to understand/identify.

  • http://bhayden.blogspot.com/ Bruce Hayden

    The fact that the feedback may have gone positive on Venus is really irrelevant here, except to prove that it is possible. The reality here is that we have had more CO2 in the atmosphere, just like we have had less. Ditto of course for temperature and other greenhouse gasses. The fact that we seem to be oscillating around the same general temperature range would seem to me to be relatively strong indicia of negative feedback.

    I think the basic problem here is that you have an engineer who has had training in feedback essentially arguing with someone who has a philosphy degree, barely passed his two science classes in college, and then tried to go to divinity school (and later law school). While scientists are taught about feedback, they don't have to deal with it at the level that engineers do, and so don't really incorporate it into their world view, like engineers do. So, I am not really surprised that so many scientists have signed on to the GW bandwagon (though there is not near the consensus suggested).

  • http://bhayden.blogspot.com/ Bruce Hayden

    An expected 21st century increase of 0.5 or even 1 degree C do not justify the massive imposed government interventions that will be costly both in dollars and lost freedoms. In particular, the developing world will be far better off hotter by a degree and richer than it would be cooler and poorer. This is particularly true since sources like an Inconvenient Truth wildly exaggerate the negative effects of global warming. There is no evidence tornadoes or hurricanes or disease or extinction are increasing as the world warms, and man-made warming advocates generally ignore inevitable positive effects of warming. And the IPCC predicts only a foot and a half of sea level rise even with 4 or more degrees of warming.

    What must also be taken into account is that the "pain" is not being shared around equally. Rather, the "developing" countries are effectively exempt from Kyoto, and as a result I saw a figure the other day that China ia bringing on better than one coal fired power plant a week. And didn't they take over for us as the biggest net emmitters of CO2.

    Another problem is that if the issue were really CO2, and not some utopian vision of the world, then the U.S. would have been left the option of planting trees to offset our CO2 production. But that excluded from Kyoto, possibly becase of the recognition that parts of this country have naturally reforested (and, no, that doesn't include Phoenix - sand is sand, and it takes water to grow trees - we have it, and aren't give you any more).

    I also think the failure to address the positive effects of Global Warming is significant. I wasn't the least bit surprised that Putin has declared that Russia won't sign. Why should they? They are far more likely to benefit than be hurt by any GW. If we have a population and food problem on this planet, the cheapest and easiest way to solve it, in my view, would be to heat up the planet enough to free up some of that frozen tundra in Canada and Russia to farming. My rough estimate is that moving agriculture a hundred miles north, would result in more than a billion additional acres of farmland. Just look at the globe and notice the shape of the continents in respect to their latitude.

    Maybe my idea there about being able to grow more crops on this earth if it were a bit warmer is off. But so far, I haven't seen that sort of thing addressed. And it should be, because we do know that mankind has historically flourished better when the earth was a little bit warmer.

    It should also be recognized that the IPCC is a political document coming out of a very political organization, effectively run by the "have-nots" of the world. And despite that, it still comes in as more conservative than Gore and his "Truth" book.

  • Anon E. Mouse

    I don't think Venus proves a positive feedback mechanism.

    Venus proves that a planet with Venus' atmosphere (and albedo, etc.) receiving the same amount of energy from the Sun as Venus will have an equilibrium temperature the same as Venus'.

    Please note that Venus has 90 times the atmosphere (yes, its surface pressure is 90 times that of the Earth). Of that, 96.5% is CO2.

    Someone else can do the "how much energy does Venus get compared to the earth" lookup. Hint: incident radiation from a point source goes down as a cube of distance.

    If Earth was a positive feedback system, it would've already "positive feedback-ed" and ended up at an equilibrium.

  • jb

    Just to further represent my understanding of the Gore-o-philes: You are correct, hundreds of millions of years ago, the Earth had more CO2 in the air than now, and the entire planet was covered in ice.... Eventually, there was so much CO2 in the air that the ice melted, and exposed the rocks that were able to help scrub the CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    However, for the last 600k years, there has never been as much CO2 in the air as in recent years, if the ice samples from Antarctica are correct. So, in any rational discussion of "modern" conditions, it is fair to say: Yes, in fact, there is more CO2 in the atmosphere now than at any time in the Neolithic and modern era.

    And, my remark about Venus and positive feedbacks is _not_ that the Earth is like Venus, it is that positive feedback loops can happen, and have happened in our solar system.

    Without an accurate understanding of the underlying systems, a claim that it "can't happen here" is pretty much just as foolish as claiming that it _will_ happen here.

    And as for the comment that "it would've already positive feedback-ed" - given that the CO2 forcing is unprecedented in the human era, I'm not sure that claim holds water.

    Let me be clear - I believe that the likelihood of runaway global warming is vanishingly small. I believe, quite strongly, that there are lots of negative feedback mechanisms that are either ignored, misunderstood or downplayed because they don't help publish papers or sell books. But those are just beliefs. Without a clear and compelling understanding of all the relevant environmental systems, your statements re:no positive feedbacks are just beliefs as well.

    Without good, compelling and complete models, you can neither prove nor disprove AGW. All you can really do is snipe at the other side for believing in models that you don't believe in.

  • Lawrence

    I am interested in the sun (but not cosmic rays) because solar forcing provides a possible physical explanation to the warming that has clearly been evident in the last decade or so. The problem that I've witnessed as to whether we've be exposed to a brighter sun, or not, recently is that the pronouncements of scientists who might reasonably be in position to know from data have been at odds with each other.

    Why can't we get a straight answer on the possibilites of a brighter sun - or not - from scientists whose expertise is Ole Sol? That is my wish. Even an answer that says, "We don't know and can't know" because we don't have the tools to fully understand solar output and hence the possibility of solar forcing would be welcomed.

    Any thoughts on finding this Diogenes du Sol?

  • Mike H.

    A rationale for launching the STEREO satellites was that we couldn't figure out how much of the output from the sun reached the earth. STEREO

  • Rick C

    If I am understanding properly, I am not sure we can say that Venus is an example of a positive feedback loop. To argue that it is, we would have to have some data that showed that Venus had, at some time, a significantly smaller proportion of CO2 and was significantly cooler. Then as CO2 increased, the temperature increased, and more CO2 was released into the atmosphere, etc. etc. I don't think we have ever shown that.

    In doing some Google searches, I came up with references to positive feedback and "Venus like", but no assertions that Venus was, in fact, an example of a positive feedback loop.

    Rick

  • me

    Just a bit of critical feedback.

    You are doing a nice thing by addressing issues in a cool and composed manner. Yes, there are issues about CO2 levels which aren't trivially alarming.

    But I would like to point out that regarding the negative effect of environment friendliness, you are as alarmist as you accuse (rightly or wrongly - I do not debate that) the greenies to be.

    Environmental concern is beyond the simplistic "the world is going to melt" punditry that, yes, some people do unfortunately employ. Even though I do not consider Gore to be such a person, I do recognize why he is labeled as such.
    There are other problems and you know it very well. From the 9 million tons of gunk rising from the depths of the river in New Jersey (forgive me, I don't have a link), to the North Pacific Gyre being the final resting place of practically any piece of plastic that falls into the ocean.

    Then, there is the entire geo-political situation. Countries are going to war over oil. NKorea just accepted to disarm nuclear reactors in exchange for oil - in my books, that's a pretty sad thing: that a country would go Nuclear as a bargaining chip for resources.

    All in all, the savings that can be achieved by simply switching to CFL bulbs for example, is significant at practically no cost (I know the 'against people' say that it would cost millions of dollars to switch out all the bulbs etc. etc., but at an average lifetime of roughly 1000 hours, that is 41 days of continuous usage, replacing an incandescent bulb that expires with a CFL would basically switch over the entire planet in a couple of years at most, at no extra cost). Likewise, driving a hummer is not a 'freedom of choice' so much as it is indulging. And it is not the environment which is going to stop that trend, but the already happening collapse of an economy based on the waste model of the 50s when oil used to basically gyser out of the ground at the mere poke of a pick axe.

    Above all though, the most important thing is that we have to accept that the earth has limited resources. Finite. This is indubitable. The mentality that has been reining since the industrial revolution has been one of growth and more growth. It is interesting to note in economy that developing regions (cities, countries) will always first experience a boom in construction, followed by a tapering off of that and a subsequent boom in tertiary sectors and maybe high tech secondary sectors. In other words, construction industry is not sustainable for the lifespan of an economic microcosm.

    Construction industry is very similar to growth. What analysts consider a healthy market is one that is growing. A market that is stagnant is... well, stagnant. The word itself has a negative connotation. But why should it? Growth is only sustainable at the beginning of an era.

    Anyways, the point being that you can't write up 80 pages of whatever you want, and then hinge it against a fulcrum carrying on the other side: quote "do not justify the massive imposed government interventions that will be costly both in dollars and lost freedoms" /quote. North America's current fuel efficiency is where Japan was in the 80s. They didn't do it because of massive imposed interventions. They did it out of necessity and sooner or later, you will have to realize that America has the same necessity. On the flipside of all of this, you fail to recognize any of the advantages that might be brought to the industry by better efficiency. Read: savings. CFL bulbs actually save money.

    Humans have this fear of change that is... primordial for lack of a better description. The greenies are completely vulnerable to this as you yourself point out by saying that we actually don't know of the positive effects that might occur due to global warming. But you are not exempt from that either: you and everyone who is "against global warming" most often cites "massive costs" as the reason not to do anything about it... really, you are just as afraid as the greenies about change. Nobody argues against environmental friendliness because they would prefer a rotten and dirty planet. They do it because they're afraid of shifting from the currently ubiquitous mindsets.

  • Lawrence

    "A rationale for launching the STEREO satellites was that we couldn't figure out how much of the output from the sun reached the earth. STEREO"

    NASA's STEREO program is well-founded as a research tool to better understand "space weather".

    What I don't get from the NASA STEREO web site is whether observing coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in 3d vice 2d (as is now the case) leads to a better estimation of the energy contained in each CME and perforce the solar energy spike that strikes the earth from each CME. I would assume the answer is yes.

    But if the answer is yes, then I ask the question "Is a brighter sun a more variable sun and would increased variability be expressed as increased numbers and sizes of CMEs?" And furthermore, are the integrated contributions of CMEs to the total solar energy striking the earth now accounted for?

    Being a nuclear engineer, I'd really like to know the state of solar research to understand whether science today is in a position to accurately measure the total integrated joules/m2 striking the earth over long periods of time. I know from my work involving nuclear radiation instrumentation that accurately measuring single species of nuclear particles or photons over very narrow energy bands is a very difficult problem. How much more difficult is it to measure all forms of solar energy striking the earth over all energy bands ranging from femo ev to GEV?

    Just wish I was much more knowledgeable of solar physics to understand whether the brighter sun theory is potential player in global warming, or not.

  • Dennis Wingo

    Lawrence

    Great post! I can tell you that non electromagnetic energy transfers are not accounted for in any of the models at all. For example, it is estimated that there is about 42 terawatts of thermal energy being radiated from the Earth's internal heat. This is not accounted for. Also, the sun emits charged particles (as you as a nuclear guy know), and these charged particles create the northern lights. They also operate on the "vertical" lightning that goes between the tops of clouds and space. This is also tens to hundreds of terawatts per year, depending on the strength of the solar cycle. The vertical lightning is so strong that it has been detected by gamma ray detectors in space and on the earth. As you as a nuclear guy know, if lightning is generating gamma rays, something very darned energetic is going on!!

    As someone from the solar physics community I just can say, follow the data. If the sediment and ice cores can detect the 11, 22, 88, 240, and 1000 year solar cycles, then it should be obvious to the casual observer that there is a solar influence. I just don't think that the totality of solar influence is correctly accounted for in the models at all.

  • Lawrence

    Good to know that someone from the solar physics community is monitoring this board.

    Now that you say that "non electromagnetic energy transfers are not accounted for in any of the models at all", I am really suspicious. That's like saying in the nuclear world to ignore alphas, betas, and neutrons and just focus on gammas and x-rays because we can measure them in some manner and we can handle the particles. Hmmm. Not good.

  • Lawrence

    "...we can't handle the particles..."

    My bad.

  • http://www.daublin.org Daublin

    I find the #8-style arguments the strongest, from a policy perspective. If CO2 at 0.08% is disastrous, then it is a disaster in 2150 just as much in 2100. That means, if we assume it is disastrous, then we cannot merely decrease CO2 emission. We have to nearly eliminate it.

    What kind of world would that be? On the face of it, it strikes me as a humanitarian disaster of its own. Can the undeveloped world pull out of poverty without access to cheap energy? For that matter, in the developed world, what kind of standard of living will we sacrifice if we cut out cheap energy?

    I would honestly like to see links from pro-panic guys who have a real proposal for the future. Kyoto only makes sense as a stepping stone, but a stepping stone to where?!

  • curious

    I am interested in the question, but I do not know enough to be either a proponent or a sceptic. That said, I have seen realclimate explanations defying #1 above, namely, that there is a point after which adding more CO2 does not have an effect. The argument is here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/06/a-saturated-gassy-argument/#more-455

    Was that argument debunked? If so, would someone point me to that debunking?

  • curious

    Sorry, just found the discussion in another blog on this site.

  • Aaron

    As someone who considers himself an environmentalist, I've become skeptical of attributing global warming to human made causes. This documentary helped make me more skeptical: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3028847519933351566&q=global+warming&total=15586&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=7

    However, even if global warming is bunk, this should not be a reason for us to turn our gaze from issues of pollution. Air quality should still be a major concern as it seriously affects public health. We still need to be concerned about fertilizers and chemicals for crops getting in our water. Even if methane doesn't contribute to global warming it doesn't mean we can't still harvest that shit for energy from livestock and landfills. War promoting oil will run out eventually and our cars still cause pollution to our air which should give us incentive to better fuel efficiency and use plug in hybrids to charge off the grid. The grid, which is mostly coal supplied is also not very clean. While solar power and wind have high initial cost, it doesn't consume natural resources afterwards. When we do use coal, we should use underground capture and stop mountain top clearing which destroys the local landscape below often causing flooding.

    Global warming aside, we still owe much responsibility to our environment as well as to our society.

  • Aaron

    As someone who considers himself an environmentalist, I've become skeptical of attributing global warming to human made causes. This documentary helped make me more skeptical: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3028847519933351566&q=global+warming&total=15586&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=7

    However, even if global warming is bunk, this should not be a reason for us to turn our gaze from issues of pollution. Air quality should still be a major concern as it seriously affects public health. We still need to be concerned about fertilizers and chemicals for crops getting in our water. Even if methane doesn't contribute to global warming it doesn't mean we can't still harvest that shit for energy from livestock and landfills. War promoting oil will run out eventually and our cars still cause pollution to our air which should give us incentive to better fuel efficiency and use plug in hybrids to charge off the grid. The grid, which is mostly coal supplied is also not very clean. While solar power and wind have high initial cost, it doesn't consume natural resources afterwards. When we do use coal, we should use underground capture and stop mountain top clearing which destroys the local landscape below often causing flooding.

    Global warming aside, we still owe much responsibility to our environment as well as to our society.

  • rob

    In your sixty-second explanation, I think there is a isconnect between ideas that may be addressed in the full-length feature. You say that at some point there is a decline in effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, like the white paint in the red room. My question is, have levels reached the point of diminishing returns yet? Could we be on the front end where the effect is growing exponentially and won't reach the point of diminishing effect until the second or third doubling of current ratios occurs and we could still see a rise in temperatures of multiple degrees celsius?
    In a subsequent point, you make the assupmtion that we are already at the point of diminishing effect. That was never substantiated.

  • Dave Brown

    [quote]As to rising sea levels, the IPCC predicts only a foot and a half of sea level rise even with 4 or more degrees of warming. Sea level rise from a half to one degree of warming would be measured in inches.[/quote]

    I very much doubt it. Any rise in sea level would be measured in either metres or millimetres in any country other than the USA. Get a grip. If you want to talk about international issues, please use international units.

  • Tom

    “Then, there is the entire geo-political situation. Countries are going to war over oil. NKorea just accepted to disarm nuclear reactors in exchange for oil - in my books, that's a pretty sad thing: that a country would go Nuclear as a bargaining chip for resources.”

    Had N Korea not been yet another bankrupt example of the misguided use of command economics by tyrant rulers it would not have needed to do this. This is in fact the “pretty sad thing”

    “And it is not the environment which is going to stop that trend, but the already happening collapse of an economy based on the waste model of the 50s when oil used to basically gyser out of the ground at the mere poke of a pick axe.”
    Above all though, the most important thing is that we have to accept that the earth has limited resources. Finite.”

    I really recommend you read “The Skeptical Environmentalist” by Bjorn Lomberg.

    “It is interesting to note in economy that developing regions (cities, countries) will always first experience a boom in construction, followed by a tapering off of that and a subsequent boom in tertiary sectors and maybe high tech secondary sectors. In other words, construction industry is not sustainable for the lifespan of an economic microcosm.”

    It has nothing to do with being sustainable or not, this is a natural progression observed in all the world’s modern economies.

    “Nobody argues against environmental friendliness because they would prefer a rotten and dirty planet. They do it because they're afraid of shifting from the currently ubiquitous mindsets.”

    Again, read Bjorn Lomberg. The key to looking after the environment is to allow a society to achieve sufficient wealth to cause concern and then do something about it. The reality is that we in the west have a pretty good environment compared to how it used to be.

  • Roe

    So far science does figure out fasinating discoveries, however a lot of stuff in general follows catch 22. global warming really means ice age. Evolution to me occurs at its fastest pace when the earth is hot.Lets figure it like this; it takes a little heat to make love. There is so much in the way of paradox these days; that I really want to get started. I'm only going to talk a little and you have no idea what a favor that was. The thing that get me is we think we know so much and are willing to take action- I mean our governments-but we as a planetary race(species)we really know nothing not even 1% of what there is to Know. So how are we going to make and educated decision with so little knowledge. That would be like getting into business just cause you want to without any understanding or real info. What about real global modeling with evidences from the past, weather from today, the fossil record and every other shred of knowledge or discovery info whatever and all of it in chronological order with out turning it into artificial intelligence to really learn somthing through probability. another words a super super super computer to look at alot of info at one time with some sincability. Is it that one day a visionary will truely have an epiphany above the visions and let it all out helping to realize understanding of scientific informations. Say where did the great big seas ontop of north America go down the grand canyon?(Not all of them)! Out here Roe

  • P F

    Let us summarize this GW discussion:
    Al-Gore's "heuristic 'Al-Gor[e](ithms)' on global-warming" are just bunk,

  • dinasour

    Precisely. This point is too often missed.

    Regardless of the mechanisms proposed, whether it be cow flatulence, volcanoes, or my SUV, the catastropic global warming scenerio is proposterous on its face.

    It presumes that that carbon dioxide cycle is fundamentally unstable. If this were true, we wouldn't be here arguing about it. See Venus.

  • Sam

    Ignorant hicks arguing with science. I just love it.

    Tell me again about the loch ness monster.

  • Rick

    "Any rise in sea level would be measured in either metres or millimetres in any country other than the USA. Get a grip. If you want to talk about international issues, please use international units"

    silly complaint

    "Ignorant hicks arguing with science. I just love it.

    Tell me again about the loch ness monster"

    name calling ususally starts when the argument has been lost

  • mdb

    I think you would be well-served by spending some time researching how many weather records were broken in the first half of 2007.

    Something's happening, and its not good for us. Should we:

    a) scramble around nitpicking the flaws in everyone's explanation

    b) move towards living sustainably, instead of gutting every natural resource while continually producing more and more waste that won't biodegrade

    Seriously. Whichever way the science goes, there's still the issue of taking care of the only home that we all share. I'd tell you to research the amount of pollution deaths that other countries (especially China) suffer, but you probably aren't even reading now.

    The real problem is not whether or not you understand that regardless of the science we still need to care for the earth, but whether or not the people reading this will take that message from your article.

  • JP

    I am always intrigued by the finite natural resource crowd. The industrial revolution was pronounced dead with the almost extinction of the sperm whale - at a time when that black gooey stuff made your Pennsylvania farm worthless. Human ingenuity is always ruled out. If and when we run out of oil the market place will provide something else.

  • mm

    Thank you for your 60 second argument. I have a question about step 4 in your logic chain.

    You seem to try to estimate the climate sensitivity with respect to atmospheric CO2 content. In doing so, you seem to assume that the 0.5°C is already the final temperature rise, that the increase in CO2 from 280 ppm to 380 ppm has caused. Do I read you correctly? I am asking because it is my understanding, that it takes the atmosphere 100 to 200 years to fully respond to changes in CO2 content.

    P.S.: I have not commented on this blog before, so I should give a rough understanding of my point of view on the subject. I find the data convincing, that we observe man-made global warming. I do not think that climate change will be catastrophic, but nasty enough to warrant action.

  • Objective data

    JP can answer his question by looking at the Vostock ice core data. Each CO2 peak that follows the temperature peak by about 800 years does not reverse the falling temperature. Rick can answer his records being broken by looking at the lifetime of the instrument showing the record. Many of the newer instruments were installed within the last 50 years, so you will find both their hot and cold records being broken quite frequently. The few weather instruments that date to the early 1900's do not break records in the last few years. Remember in the United States five of ten hottest years occured in the 1930's.

  • Gene

    With all due respect, most of you miss the point. The Left if frantically promoting the "Global Warming" issue. Actually, they are frantically propagandizing the issue to force us to sign.

    The Protocol is a political weapon to weaken or seriously damage America. The leaders of the Kyoto movement are hardcore, leftwing Socialists.

    It is part of the war, just as is the overtly violent terrorists.

    Each part of the world revolution has it's facet. Global warming is just one facet. Under the world dictatorship, the global warming issue will disappear.

    Gene

  • Gene

    With all due respect, most of you miss the point. The Left if frantically promoting the "Global Warming" issue. Actually, they are frantically propagandizing the issue to force us to sign.

    The Protocol is a political weapon to weaken or seriously damage America. The leaders of the Kyoto movement are hardcore, leftwing Socialists.

    It is part of the war, just as is the overtly violent terrorists.

    Each part of the world revolution has it's facet. Global warming is just one facet. Under the world dictatorship, the global warming issue will disappear.

    Gene

  • Arthur James

    Just a minor points that might be picked up by lefties:

    Your graphs seems to assume that there is no inertia in the climate system, and that the current warming is therefore the entire climate sensitivity for a 30% increase in CO2.

  • WC

    And why does no one consider that Earth has warmed and cooled hundreds of times in the past when there was NO (ZERO) human-produced CO2? When CO2 concentrations were highest, in fact, the planet was in an ice age.

    GW proponents love to ignore such facts and replace them with (imperfect)computer models that predict the end of the world. No surprise that their recommendations just HAPPEN to nest comfortably with their desired world view.

  • Herb

    My view: have you ever walked across your lawn barefooted to the mailbox and stepped onto pavement? did you notice the difference? I'll bet you did! More construction = more rooftops (mostly dark colored); more pavement (less grass, trees, and other plants which use carbon dioxide in their life-cycle and give off oxygen as a waste product); materials used in construction are, by nature, a negative component to the environment in their harvesting and manufacturing processes. But I digress. Most people associate Global Warming with a higher reading on the thermometer. Where are those usually located? Is that the same place they were located 50-100 years ago? And are they not more sophisticated than those used years ago?

    In my view, "it ain't apples and apples". We should turn our attention to something more immediate that we can all agree on, pollution. We must get busy on air and water issues, both of which have serious health repercussions.

  • Richard O.

    Can any scientist tell us laymen whether the world is still at the same axis as it was in the ICE AGE? How did Sahara Desert a once upon a time livable land became a desert if there was never a drastic change. Since CO2 and oxygen can be ameliorated by trees the whole world should destroy less and plant more to replace the ones that greed has lead us to destroy.

  • biil-tb

    Good read, simple is best, provable is best ... however, the left views logic as their enemy and truth as their terror.

    I think you are right, if the Earth's climate were a positive feedback system, it would have already 'railed' in one of those conditions. What's of more interest is why did the cycle of ice ages start up some 3 million years ago. Since then the ice age cycle has gone from 40 k to 100 k years and has deepened in severity. A straight line approximation of the last 3 million years unarguably shows the Earth is steadily cooling.

    The Earth's temperature history shows the interglacial periods as uneasily short, if you are a warm blooded hairless mammal. An approximation of the mean temperature for recent times calculates the Earth's average condition a very chilly snowball.

    You would think that intelligent people would want the Earth to stay warm when faced with this evidence.

  • Valery

    After reading about the GW and especially after watching "Inconvenient Truth," I was looking for a forum to vent my frustration. In a way, it is just simple physics, no need to talk about the complexity of the system. I am not denying that complexity, I am just saying that the arguments of the GW champions contradict elementary physics. Let us see.

    The GW proponents state that
    1) there is global worming because
    __a) global temperature increased
    __b) glaciers melt
    __c) sea level rises
    2) the consequences will be disastrous because
    __a) most of wild life will die out
    __b) most populated coastal areas are will be flooded
    3) the reason for warming is increase of CO2 levels (greenhouse effect): the more there is CO2 the higher the temperature. Historical data show strong correlation between the temperature and the CO2 level
    4) the increase of the CO2 level is man-made
    5) if we reduce the emission, we can reverse the warming.

    I will try to show that all of the above is -- how do I put it? -- not necessarily true.

    1) there is global worming because
    __a) global temperature increases. The concept of global temperature is not well defined. Note, we are not talking about average temperature of the Earth, which is a well-defined (although hard to measure) concept. Global temperature is apparently an average temperature measured by the meteorological stations (and satellites) corrected by the so-called lend use factor (it is warmer around large cities where many stations are found). Not only the corrections are somehow arbitrary, but the stations are not representative for the "global" temperature. (I remember 1992, when there was 28C near the Dead Sea and snow in Jerusalem, which is only about 20 miles away. There are other high-contrast weather zones). What I am trying to say, "global temperature" is an ambiguous term and its meaning and value are not well defined.

    __b) glaciers melt. It is simple physics: if the temperature of the Earth (whatever it means) increases, there will be more water vapor in the atmosphere. This vapor should precipitate where it is cold, therefore the glaciers should grow. In reality, melting or growth of the glaciers happens for other reasons. For example, a good dust storm in Sahara could darken the ice. Change of the Wind Rose could cause evaporation of the ice that would overdo precipitation. Human-made pollution may also play a role, although I doubt it is comparable with the forces of Mother Nature.

    __c) sea lever rises. The sea level is well defined in a statement "the city is located at 3,000 feet above the sea." When we talk about centimeters, the concept just does not work. In different parts of the sea, the level of water changes all the time due to waves, tides, currents, winds, tectonic shifts, etc. and the "global" sea level is well defined with the accuracy of meters not centimeters. Moreover, the atmosphere is a huge reservoir for water that would absorb much of it produced by the melting of glaciers (the culprit of the sea level raise).

    But let us assume that despite all said, the “global” worming really takes place.

    2) the consequences will be disastrous because
    __a) most of wild life will die out. We are told that a collision with a comet (or whatever it was) destroyed much of the life on Earth. Here we are talking about a slow process that would give the life time to adjust. Animals, plants, and people can migrate as they did before when the glaciers moved back and forth. Why this time it should be much different? (Inconvenient, yes, but not necessarily disastrous).

    __b) most populated coastal areas are will be flooded. Fair enough. We just must not forget that the continental cost line will not disappear; it will just shift to the areas that are less populated. And again, we will have some time to adjust.

    3) the reason for warming is increase in CO2 level (greenhouse effect). As far as I remember, the main greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vapor. According to http://www.met.fsu.edu/explores/atmcomp.html, water may constitute up to 4% of the atmosphere, whereas CO2 is less than 0.04%. This implies to me that CO2 is more or less irrelevant.
    Of cause, there is a correlation between the temperature (whatever it means) and the CO2 level. This is understandable. The main regulator of CO2 is oceanic plankton, which exists in two varieties, namely zooplankton (microscopic animals) and phytoplankton (microscopic plants). The former produces CO2, and the latter consumes it when there is light. In cold water, there is more phytoplankton than zooplankton, whereas in warmer water there is more zooplankton. Therefore, when it is warmer, production of CO2 increases and consumption decreases and when it is colder, the opposite happens. Increase of CO2 level gives additional food to the microscopic plants and soon a new equilibrium that reflects the new temperature is reached.
    There is another important consideration. Greenhouse effect as a cause of warming is based on an assumption that the Earth gets more energy from the Sun is a form of visible light to which the greenhouse gases are transparent than it irradiates in a form of infrared light that is absorbed by the gases. In fact, there are significant reservoirs for energy on Earth that may absorb or release energy (free energy, to be specific) without temperature changes. For example, when cold wind freezes water, much energy is released that warms up the wind whereas the water temperature does not change.

    4) the increase of the CO2 level is man-made. I doubt that man-made CO2 is comparable with that created by the ocean. If this is true than we have a reliable evidence of warming -- the increase of the CO2 level. This does not mean that that warming is "global." It would suffice if the most populated by plankton areas of the ocean warm up.

    Now, let us assume that despite all said above, there is global warming caused by man-made increase of the CO2 level.

    5) if we reduce the emission, we can reverse the warming. Is not it true that reduction of the emission would reduce the rate of growth of the CO2 level rather than reduce the level itself?

    The only potentially good thing that may come out of the GW hysteria is that nuclear power plants will be perceived as a "lesser evil" and we will be less dependent on the foreign oil and have cleaner energy sources and media -- I am talking about all this hydrogen stuff.

    -Valery

  • James Williams

    The first sentence in paragraph 1 is in error. The sunlight reflected from the earth is still in the short solar wavelength of mostly less than 1 micron, so is not absorbed by CO2. The CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs infrared energy emitted from the earth, mostly in the wavelengths around 2.7, 4.3, and 15 microns. (The peak radiation from a body at 60 F is at about 10 microns.) There is not much energy radiated at 2.7 and 4.3 microns, and these wavelengths are pretty well saturated already, so the radiant energy at around 15 microns is the most important.

  • David

    Has chicken little ever been right.

  • earl stockwell

    Nothing has been inconvertably proved either way about GW. However, a GW debate is a positive thing. It is infinately better to have a non polluted world than a polluted one. If this debate results in a more, non polluted world, then, that's a good thing. As George Carlin once said, "If it gets bad enough [world pollution] the world will just shrug us off and start all over again." One day, we all must come to understand that our planets' ecosystems are finite and somewhat fragile; that we all 'should' adjust our lives and standards to meet that consideration.

  • Andy

    Hi an interesting discussion. I have a question that has been bothering me though, maybe someone here can help?

    1) I understand that the Ice Cores show CO2 lagging behind temerature and that a warmer ocean releases more CO2.

    2) I also understand that CO2 absorbes IR energy and the more CO2 in the atmosphere increases the amount of heat absorbed.

    Now I don't understand the properties of CO2 but generally there is a time difference in how a particular type of material absorbes heat and how it releases it.

    Therefore if CO2 readily absorbes heat but is reluctant to release it, in a similar way as the silicon tiles on the space shuttle, would not CO2 be acting as a coolant and if so wouldn't this view of CO2, as a negitive feedback through absorbing heat, be more consistant with point 1 and 2 above rather than CO2 being part of a positive feedback machanism?

  • Marv

    My wife and I recently went on a trip to Alaska. Many of the "tour guides" and rangers made comments on how much of the area was under 2,000-3,000 feet of ice as recently as 14,000 years ago when the melting began. One tour guide attributed the melting to Global Warming. I snidely remarked how horrible it must have been to have all those carbon-emitting vehicles back then.

    When I read Genesis, the Word of God stated that the whole world was a paradise. Studying the Word closely reveals that the world was like a green house. Before Noah, it had never rained (which made the story of the Ark even more remarkable). Fossil findings in places like Greenland brings credibility to His words (actually, His words brings credibility to the scientific findings). These fosils were not only of warm-weather creatures but also plant life such as ferns found in the tropics.

    It only goes to reason that the warming of the earth is God's attempt to bring this world back to the state prior to the fall of man and of Adam's original sin. The world is being prepared for the return of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Why would anyone want to try and stop that?

  • Dan

    @ Marv-
    Would that make Al Gore the anti-christ?

    (JK)

  • Impressed

    Wow, such convincing arguments! Perhaps you should send
    your article to the IPCC. Once they study your analysis
    we will surely see them advising governments that they got
    the calculation all wrong, and there
    is no need for worry or action. I'd say there's a fair
    chance that this body comprised of many of
    the world climate scientists (you know, the people who
    spend their lives studying this), just simply are
    not aware of your compelling arguments. When they
    receive them and take the time to study them they will
    no doubt be greatly relieved. I know I am reassured
    by you, I was concerned for the future of my children,
    but tonight I will sleep easy.

    Thanks so much, and please pass your wisdom on to the
    IPCC as soon as possible. Oh, and you should probably
    consider a paper in Nature, I'm sure that after some
    peer review they will put out a special issue for you.

  • aaron2

    Interesting stuff.A few comments.Why does the God crowd insist on making their deity so small minded?After all,isn't this the dude who created it all,the universe(s)complete with the 'billions&billions'of galaxies,stars,planets,yada yada?I'm not doubting his/her/its existence,mind you;just as we would consider ourselves higher up on a scale of development than say a virus,makes sense to believe that we aren't the pinnacle of beings in all this creation.All I'm trying to point out is the unlikelihood that us humans even are on the radar.It is a big universe.As far as the global warming thing goes,all the science (and lack thereof)gets a bit confusing.However,simple observations can be powerful.Next time you fly over an industrialized nation(like the US),make sure to look down.Chicago is a good place,but there are so many.Keep in mind that a scant few centuries ago,there was nothing here except the natural world and a very few human beings,engaging in a(by modern standards)minimalist lifestyle.Anyone who still insists that we aren't affecting the environment is either not thinking straight or has never observed what too many grazing sheep will do to a pristine pasture.This argument basically boils down to two positions:those who care what becomes of the air,water,climate,whathave you,and those who,for whatever reason,do not.Yeah,the whole GW debate does have a large element of hysteria and crises-of-the month,but until recently anyone who even mentioned 'the environment'was considered a whacko.If it takes this circus to get people to have this conversation,then bring it on.The way I see it,we all became'environmentalists'the day we stopped shitting our pants.Some people's environment is just a bit bigger than others.Thank God.

  • Andy Carman

    Are the majority of glaciers retreating? Is Artic ice melting at a faster rate than all but that most negative models predicted?
    What are the freedoms you're afraid of losing? The freedom to drive any size vehicle wherever and whenever you want?
    What was the temperature of Earth and the relative depth of the ocean the last time CO2 was at 400 ppm? 500ppm?
    If the average Earth temperature raises 1-2 degrees, what is the average temperature increase in Canada - 5 degrees or 10 degrees or 15 degrees?

  • Andy Carman

    Are the majority of glaciers retreating? Is Artic ice melting at a faster rate than all but that most negative models predicted?
    What are the freedoms you're afraid of losing? The freedom to drive any size vehicle wherever and whenever you want?
    What was the temperature of Earth and the relative depth of the ocean the last time CO2 was at 400 ppm? 500ppm?
    If the average Earth temperature raises 1-2 degrees, what is the average temperature increase in Canada - 5 degrees or 10 degrees or 15 degrees?

  • Rick C

    Im just a mechanic but I never hear about all of the carbon (an ingrediant for CO2) That we sequester. I mowed my lawn yesterday and placed the cuttings in a container. These cuttings will be hauled off and buried cutting off their access to 02 and they will not contribute to CO2. I flushed my toilet and that will be buried. All the trash and garbage that used to be burned is now buried. It may not be as much as we produce but if you don't count it how can you have a true model.
    I guess it really doesn't matter to me because I work out doors and died years ago from radiation poisining due to the hole in the Ozone.

  • http://libertarian-left.blogspot.com Danny Shahar

    I'm sure you're not reading these anymore, and I'm not sure if someone's already pointed this out, but the reason the estimated climate sensitivity is supposed to be higher in the long run is because the oceans and ice caps take a long time to adjust to new temperature conditions. In a disequilibrated warming world, the ice caps and oceans would be expected to cool the atmosphere as their temperatures slowly rose to the new equilibrium. Accordingly, assuming that the sensitivity of a 36% increase in CO2 is 0.6C is unjustified; it's likely far higher.