SO, WHAT THE HECK IS SO WRONG WITH GLOBAL WARMING?
By Michael W. Lodato
My oh my! There is such a fuss about the increase in the earth’s temperature, you would think the world is about to end. Actually, the guys making the big fuss predict that human life will end pretty soon – as early as 9 years from now. And these Believers, behave like members of a fundamentalist religion in that they have an unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs about the effects of fossil fuel emissions that is marked by absolute certitude and conviction that their views are right and wise and obviously correct. They believe that anyone holding opposing views cannot possibly be doing so for serious reasons and must be acting out of some ulterior motive such as racism or greed or whatever. The rest of us are condemned and vilified. The Believers put those who do not believe that climate change is an existential threat in the same boat as people who hate cocker spaniels.
Sure, since 1880, the earth has warmed, as measured by something called the global average surface temperature, by about 0.85o Celsius. That’s a warming of less than 1.53o Fahrenheit over a 140-year period – a change that this author would not notice if it occurred today or any other day. Said another way, the global average surface temperature has risen an average of less than one hundredth of a degree F per year. And, some information sources – blogs, websites, media articles and other voices – highlight that the planet has been cooling since a peak in global temperature in 1998. What’s going on?
So, let’s accept the fact that the Earth has warmed some since about 1880. How warm was it before that? According to scientists studying ice cores in Greenland, 1880 (or there abouts) was the end of The Little Ice Age and the earth, then, was “the coldest it has been in the past 10,000 years.” So, a warming period would be expected. Isn’t it possible that the so-called Global Warming is what you would get after a very cold period?
And why the fuss about the change in a single number – a global average? The Earth is made up of many, many climates. San Francisco, itself may have as many as ten. Surely, the rise in average temperature can’t affect every climate in the same way – negatively or positively. If some areas of the globe, say the tropics, have become uncomfortably warm, haven’t others areas, say Canada and Scandinavia, become comfortably warm?
They have. Take the Canadian province of Alberta. Analyzing the trends, its climate has been warming, especially in winter, which are clearly getting much, much warmer. Since 1951, winter temperatures in Alberta have risen over 4°C in the south and over 6°C in the north. The number of days below -20°C has fallen by half. Many parts of the world are probably experiencing the best climate they’ve had in the past 10,000 years. The increase in CO2 may take some credit for that. Increased CO2 has actually led to extra greening which means increased crop yields.
And think of this. The substantial decrease in summer sea ice has exposed the Northwest Passage and its possibilities. A navigable Northwest Passage would present a huge shortcut for shipping across the Northwest Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Usually, ship traffic must go through the Panama Canal or south around the southern tip of South America. Passing through the Canadian Arctic would cut shipping distances by more than 4,000 miles.
CO2 is not the only contributor to temperature rise. Although CO2 concentration and temperature are correlated, the correlation between temperature and solar activity is stronger. In neither case does a correlation prove cause and effect. Take, for example the Milankovitch Cycles that explain the effects of precession, tilt, and orbital variations of the earth’s movement around the sun. These correlations are huge compared with the influence of increased CO2. Other drivers of temperature include solar activity; cosmic radiation; tectonic plate movement; major ocean convections; clouds; feedback mechanisms and the heat island effect in developed areas where temperature measurements are taken. So, why blame, or credit, temperature rises totally on an increase in CO2 emissions.
And then there are problems with forecasting. Those of us who have used models in our professions refer to “The first rule of forecast models” which is “They don’t work.” That sounds like a local joke. But it is not. Models really don’t work. We also say that “there are only two groups of forecasters – those that do not know and those that do not know they do not know.” (Put Al Gore in the second group.) Model predictions have consistently predicted more warming than is subsequently observed – a lot more. The models are even wrong when they try to “predict” past temperatures using real data and the answers are already known. It is so difficult to measure total solar irradiation that there is no confidence in any small signals coming from increased CO2. In other words, the noise in the system (natural variations and measurement difficulties) swamps the signal. The UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states global warming to be occurring at a rate of 0.05 degrees C. per decade. But that figure is + or – 0.1 degree meaning that there is more error in the measurement than signal detected.
With that track record of forecasting, how can we have any confidence in predictions of the consequences of any fix, say the Green New Deal, for global warming. Not that they ever bother with telling us. And if you cannot predict what will be the result of spending trillions of dollars on the GND, wouldn’t it be better not to spend it, or to spend it on something else like malnutrition of children, reducing poverty, providing energy where it doesn’t exist. People who study this stuff say that if we spent all those trillions, and successfully implemented the GND, we would affect the temperature by only 0.2 deg. C by the end of the century.
Further, is the statement that global warming represents an “existential threat”. This is a prediction that if CO2 emissions are not stopped all human life on earth will cease. You and I and everybody else will be dead. (Serious stuff). If they don’t mean that, then they should call it something else rather than “existential.” Some even predict the date that all life will end. And, so far, every such prediction has the following attributes:
- they have been wrong 100% of the time.
- they do not specify how all of us will cease to exist – (fire, drowning, excessive heat, starvation, nuclear war, etc.,) and explain whether it will be sudden or gradual. If it is rising sea levels, (how high?) wouldn’t we move to higher ground? If it is excessive heat, (how hot?) wouldn’t we move to northern climes? If it is wildfires, wouldn’t we stand up to the Sierra Club and demand good forest management?
Conclusion: The only significant human threat relative to global warming is what governments plan to do about it. Yes, mans’ activities contribute to global warming, but it is a very small contribution (exact number not yet known) as compared with other natural inputs.