Global Warming, Fact or Fiction?

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GLOBAL WARMING
FACT OR FICTION, SCARE OR SCANDAL?
These are my thoughts on Global Warming right after watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, reading
Michael Crichton’s State Of Fear and doing a decent amount of my own research. These are just my
thoughts written down in bulleted format to get the points across while being a little amusing.
1) Actual Temperature Readings: It’s pretty clear that the majority of the globe is heating up. Many
places aren’t, but on average I don’t think this can be debated much. People who deny this are risking
being put into the Holocaust Denier Category. Saying “nu-huh!” isn’t a valid argument. However, I
don’t think the relationship between emissions and their effects is greatly understood based on the
fact that the global climate is so utterly complex, but I’ll get more into that later.
What also isn’t greatly understood is whether the earth has ever been hotter than it is right now,
which is important to know. Of course, if you hate Florida for stealing the last presidential election,
then you’ll unquestionably believe Al Gore’s graph in An Inconvenient Truth of the last 650,000
years that shows our current temperature which is significantly warmer (no actual numbers were
given) than all other time periods, including the “Medieval Warming Period”. It’s also vitally
important to note that an Oscar was awarded for this movie, so it must be scientifically accurate
despite the fact that the real scientific journal Nature doesn’t agree with him. Nature states that
“During the last four interglacials, going back 420,000 years, the Earth was warmer than it is today.”
(“Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica”.
Nature 399, 429-436 (3 June 1999) Received 20 January 1999; Accepted 14 April 1999.
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v399/n6735/abs/399429a0.html.)
2) Death by CO2, compliments of Al Gore: It’s clear that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are closely
tied to the temperature. There are, however, large periods where the CO2 rises and temp falls, which
is more evidence that the climate is an unpredictable, chaotic system, but overall these can roughly be
equated. It’s not, however, a 1:1 ratio. If CO2 levels double, the temperature doesn’t. This is
important when looking at graphs like the one Al Gore showed of 650,000 years of CO2 and
temperatures for Antarctica. He forgot to point out that while he was showing us how much the CO2
(in parts per million) is expected to climb.
The trouble with CO2 levels is that nobody expects us to stop emitting, just slow down a little.
Al Gore pointed out that the burning of forests is responsible for 30% of CO2 emissions. So how
much of the remaining 70% are humans responsible for, after things like volcanoes? Who knows.
Gore also said that the US is responsible for more than 30% of the world’s emissions, and that if we
do everything right we could get back down to 1970 emission rates. How much of a cutback is that
exactly? 1970 isn’t exactly the turn of the century; I’m sure relative emissions aren’t that much
beneath today’s. So we’re talking about cutting CO2 emissions by a portion (back to the 1970’s) of
30% (US emissions) of some portion of 70% (after forest fires, volcanoes, and other natural sources).
And that’s supposed to “save the planet”? Oh, that’s right, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) only predicted 1.1-2.9 degrees C increase by 2100…tons more than the 0.6 degree C
increase we’ve seen during the last 127 years. Wait, I need the media to remind me: what am I
supposed to be terrified of again?
Gore also made a big deal about the fact that an analysis of 928 peer-reviewed journal articles on
climate change showed zero articles stating that humans aren’t affecting the global climate. I could
have saved everyone some time: of course we’re affecting the environment, CO2 levels, and climate
change. I affect it with every CO2-containing breath I exhale, and every mile I drive. Whether we’re
affecting it or not isn’t the question, but rather how MUCH we’re effecting it, and whether drastically
changing our ways will bring about any kind of measurable outcome. But nobody puts an arguable
number out there; the arguments deal in “affects” and “contributes to” and other relativities, not
absolutes.
3) Sustainability and the Paranoid Fear Of Change: The recurring theme in all green arguments is
the same tired, sentimental idea that they want things to be the same as they used to be…they want
granddaddy’s tobacco farm to stay the way they remember it, they want the world to be sustained in
it’s present state. This has been the core of every green thought ever expressed, and was constantly
peppered throughout An Inconvenient Truth. This lake is getting smaller: bad. This river is getting
bigger: bad. This place is getting more rain: bad. This place is getting less rain: bad. This population
of wildlife is exploding: bad. This population of wildlife is shrinking: bad. Atmosphere getting
warmer: bad. Atmosphere getting colder: bad. Up: bad. Down: bad. Right: bad. Left: just right!
The idea that we can keep a system as complex and chaotic as the global environment the same as
it used to be is egocentric and naïve in the extreme. It’s never been done successfully before, and
that’s not likely to change very soon, no matter how much planet-saving Gore convinced himself he
could do from the Office Of The President that was stolen from him (as he pointed out at least twice
in the movie). Look at the history of the management of Yellowstone National Park. People wanted
to keep it like it was in the good ole’ days, and ended up changing it permanently through ignorance.
Gore pointed out that some little bird species is dying off due to some bug not hatching at the correct
time, due, of course, to Global Warming. Welcome to Nature, Mr. Almost President. Species have
been dying off and coming into existence since the beginning. I heard that some scientist said about
90% of the species that have ever existed are now extinct; all the millions of species we have today
are only 10% of history’s total. The world has never stopped changing, so the fact that some bird
species is getting thin, or some lake in Timbuckthree isn’t as big as it used to be doesn’t concern me
at all. Until we start something drastic like exporting water, plants and animals off the planet, a little
re-arranging doesn’t bother me.
Green folk talk about the need for a sustainable lifestyle and the dire consequences of being so
oil-dependant. I agree with them, the course we’re on now isn’t sustainable…for hundreds of more
years anyway. Population growth, oil consumption, rising prices, it sounds real bad. But what it
doesn’t sound like is all that different than life today compared to 150 years ago. To 150-year-agoians,
things are extremely different and scary! Things are more expensive, there’s more people
everywhere, the cost of medicine is through the roof, your house costs a small fortune, you can’t go
out and shoot an elephant (which would be really cool)…but look at all the things that were invented
in that timeframe that the 150-year-ago-ians had no idea about. Planes, SUV’s, aspirin, magnetic
trains, computers, cell phones, satellites, penicillin, space-travel, penis enlargement surgery…all this
was completely unthinkable then, just as all the inventions and improvements of the next 150 years is
unthinkable to us now. This is the simple concept that all doomsday-ists fail to grasp. It’s naïve to
think that nothing will be invented to help the problem, and terribly egotistical to assume that we
know what’s best for the future planet, just like we wouldn’t think anyone living in 1850 should make
decisions regarding our best interests…too many things have changed, and change isn’t predictable.
Yes, some things will get worse in the future, but some things will undoubtedly get better too. And if
things don’t get better, massive amounts of people may die from disease, wars over food, or lack of
enlarged penises. But I don’t see how that would be bad for the planet. (Gasp!! Did I just say
that??? More on that to come…)
4) I just don’t think the sky is falling: Melting ice caps, melting glaciers, melting snow on top of
mountains (like Kilimanjaro, which despite Gore, isn’t due to Global Warming according to CNN
http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/06/12/climate.kilimanjaro.reut/index.html), storms, terror,
the devil, belly-button lint…..all this was happening long before the industrial revolution, and this
isn’t debated by Global Warming advocates. They just claim that we’re making it worse; that we’re
speeding up the process. Gore talked a lot about rising seas and hurricanes during his Oscar-winning
performance. According to him, the weather’s about to get really bad, and Hurricane Katrina’s just
the tip of the iceberg. But the average number of hurricanes per year has been steadily declining
since 1851 (see http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdec.shtml). That doesn’t agree at all with the doomsday
fearmonger attention-seekers. We’re all supposed to be dying!! Remember Katrina, people!! You
may remember that in 2006, after we all heard MANY dire predictions about the upcoming hurricane
season, it was a big dud. Did Global Warming take a year off? I dismiss all the fire-and-brimstone
predictions as SWAGS at best…Scientific Wild Ass Guesses. How can they reliably predict
something as complex as the climate 100 years into the future when they can’t tell me what the
weather’s going to be like in 11 days or predict a hurricane season with any reliable degree of
certainty? It’s all just guesses, and it should be treated as such. Gore also mentioned the 20ft rising
seas and talked about all the refugees as a result of that disaster, saying it will be thousands of times
worse than Katrina. That made me laugh. Katrina happened in a single night, the process of rising
seas is predicted over 100 years.
All these SWAGS and predictions are two sided. For ever action there is a reaction, and no event
is ever all-positive or all-negative; something such as the reaction of a complex global climate is often
surprising. Take the 97-98 El-Niño, which is much like the doomsday-predictions of Global Warmists.
According to Stanley A. Shanganon’s report in the Bulletin to the American Meteorological
Society: “The net economic benefit was surprisingly positive…direct losses nationally were about $4
billion and the benefits were approximately $19 billion,” due to a longer growing season and less
spent on winter heating. How do we know that a few more degrees over 100 years won’t be great?
We could produce more food for the hordes of starving people who’s population is exploding. I
predict the next 100 years will be horrible or wonderful, but probably somewhere in-between, and I’m
just as accurate as global warming alarmists. This is easy, can I get a grant?
I equate climate change scientists to economists. Both are supposed experts, and both study
extraordinarily complex systems that are impossible to predict with any certainty. It’s a common
conception that economists are primarily guessing because we see them get things wrong constantly
(and if they knew what they were talking about, none would be on TV, they would just be day-trading
from home and raking in millions). But while economists are considered with some amount of doubt,
these Global Warming scientists are regarded as prophets of the future. I don’t get it. They don’t
have any more certain of an idea regarding global climate than your stock broker does of the Dow.
What Al Gore didn’t say in-between all his political rhetoric with zooming black-and-white stills
of him saving the planet, was one simple prediction: What the temperature of the globe will be if we
take no action vs. the temperature of the globe if we follow all his AlGore-ithms (yeah, I invented that
little nugget a few months ago). Why didn’t he? Because the answer to the comparison is terribly
anti-climatic. He showed huge graphs with no legible numerical data. He got on a sky-lift to
illustrate how high the predicted CO2 levels will be in 50 years and then mentioned how we’re going
to “lose the planet” if we don’t act now. He discussed in length how fragile the atmosphere was
compared to the rest of the planet, but he didn’t give the simple temperature predictions. Why?
Because it’s much easier to get attention by talking about death and destruction than it is by admitting
that the huge difference you want to make is a few parts of a degree.
While we’re at it, let’s think about what a 1.1-2.9 degree C swing in world temperature will
actually be like. Death? Destruction? Dismemberment? Another plague? Well, it’s actually
surprisingly easy to imagine. Think all the way back to say, 1996 where it was 1.41 degrees C cooler
in the US than it was in 1998. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t seem to remember dying from
storms, floods, or greenhouse gasses that year. Or the period from 1917 to 1921 where the average
temp in the US went up 2.18 degrees C. That’s double the minimum IPCC prediction, and yet
amazingly the world survived! Well, Al Gore wasn’t desperately trying to cling to the media
spotlight back then.
Something else is missing from all the hocus-pocus scientific predictions, and that’s what I’d call
a degree of uncertainty. Useful predictions / estimates are accompanied by a degree of accuracy or
uncertainty, such as “Planet X is 13.6 billion miles away, +/- 500 million miles. This would be much
less accurate than: Planet X is 13.6 billion miles away, +/- 4.3 inches.” What I haven’t seen is this
when it comes to temperature predictions, and that leaves me with more doubt about the accuracy. Is
it 1.1-2.9 degrees C +/- 0.1 degrees C? Or is it 1.1-2.9 degrees C +/- 14 degrees C? One would make
sense, the other wouldn’t, and the fact that they’re predicting tenths of a degree in 100 years seems an
awful lot like me estimating weight of my buddy in thousandths of pound by picking him up.
5) Antarctica: The melting of the ice in Antarctica, specifically Western Antarctica is a cornerstone of
the Green evidence of the damage Global Warming is causing. In his movie, Al Gore spent a good
bit of time showing dramatic satellite pictures of this area. He showed really detailed time-lapse
pictures of a huge land mass breaking up and turning into sea ice over the period of hours or days (I
forget which, because he moved on quickly to keep the viewer from doing anything rash, like
thinking). Of course, despite the fact that this was painted as just one of a string of obvious clues that
we can kiss Antarctica goodbye, if that rate actually continued the entire continent would disappear in
a year. What he was actually showing was one part of a cyclical melting / freezing process. But of
course he didn’t mention that.
Gore also didn’t mention that according to NASA, the station data at Punta Arenas on the
southern tip of South America has recorded steady drop in temperature since 1888. Not only is this
the closest recording station to Antarctica, but this is also backed up by infrared satellite
measurements of Antarctica published in the Journal Of Climate, saying “Both satellite data and
ground stations show slight cooling over the last 20 years.” (Comiso, J.C., 2000, “Variability and
trends in Antarctic surface temperature from in situ and satellite infrared measurements,” Journal of
Climate 13:1674-96) Not exactly resounding support for the idea that Antarctica is flooding the
planet. If that isn’t enough to cast doubt on Gore’s Antarctic doomsday predictions, according to
side-looking radar measurements published in an article in Science, Western Antarctica is actually
increasing in ice mass…not by much though, only 26.8 GIGATONS per year (“Positive Mass
Balance of the Ross Ice Streams, West Antarctica.” Science 18 January 2002: Vol. 295. no. 5554, pp.
476 – 480. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/295/5554/476). Dang, I forgot again,
what are we terrified of?
6) Scientists and their moral high-ground: As Alston Chase put it, “when the search for truth is
confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.” The
IPCC is an international consortium of scientists, but it isn’t above political, financial, and peer
pressures. There is much debate over the quality of the research they performed, and their credibility
has been called into question many times, by environmental researchers, not The Oil Industry (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intergovernmental_Panel_on_Climate_Change for a good summary of IPCC
topics, including debates over accuracy).
It’s a well-known phenomenon that researchers subconsciously tend to find evidence backing up
their hypothesis, which is why double-blind studies were invented. As far as I can tell, none of this
research was done with a double-blind method. While it’s arguably impossible to perform doubleblind
experiments on the environment, the problems stemming from the lack of blindness can’t be
dismissed. Scientists are just people with jobs, reputations, and financial responsibilities of their own,
and are funded by groups with huge agendas and payrolls. To think that they are not susceptible to
their own opinions and ideas is a naïve belief in the incorruptibility and purity of science.
7) Kyoto Agreement: Holy crap. I tried to read it, and that’s more confusing than the tax code. I read
a summary instead, which was still confusing, but in the end it doesn’t seem to have many teeth to
me. China and India….89.2 bagillion people, booming economies (china anyway) and they’re
exempt from it. Oh, and you can still pollute, but you can buy your way out of it, kinda like sin,
Indulgences, and the Catholic Church way back in the day. According to Michael Crichton’s
research, the agreement will reduce temperatures by only 0.04 degrees Celsius in the year 2100.
Green people say it’s a first step, but it doesn’t even sound like that to me. What’s the point if it has
no actual practical effect?
8) Who cares anyway: After all the scientific debate, after all the research and who’s right and who’s
wrong, I constantly come back to this idea: Why give a damn about saving the planet? It’s going to
be just fine, with our without us; let’s not forget it came from molten lava and poisonous gasses. For
the sake of argument, let’s say everything Al Gore says is correct, and every bad thing that’s been
predicted comes true. Let’s say that the air and oceans warm, ice melts, oceans rise, storms surge,
and the Gulf Stream current is interrupted with ice-melt from Greenland thus triggering another
European Ice Age. Why should I care? Me, my children, and my grandchildren are going to be long
dead, and I have no doubt that the human race will survive. We’ve survived through other ice ages,
droughts, hurricanes, tsunamis, plagues, tornadoes…why would any of this be any different? Should
I care because it’s not the way the world was when I grew up? Nope…nothing I can possibly do will
keep it the same. Let me restate that, since it seems to be lost on environmentalists: NOTHING I or
anyone else can do can stop the progress of nature and society to keep it sentimentally locked in time.
So what if the WORST case scenario happens and say…90% of the population starves to death. Is
that a bad thing? Precious Mother Nature will then reign once more and it’ll be close to how it was
20,000 years ago. People have been dying throughout history, and all the tree-hugging in the world
isn’t going to change that. If we’re stupid and we chop down 99% of earth’s forests, then the planet
will fill with CO2, oxygen will be sucked up, and most living things will die off. Oh well. Give it a
few million years, and the world will grow back (due to huge amounts of plant food: CO2, sunlight,
and water from huge Global Warming storms). The few hundred thousand humans who were forced
to live in caves will begin to rebound, and everything will be fine and sustainable for the next 100,000
years.
It boggles my mind that the same liberal people who practice the Religion of Environmentalism
(and we can all agree it is one), and who don’t hold other religious beliefs (ie not believing in an
afterlife or reincarnation) can care so much about their precious human race. Aren’t the humans the
ones who are destroying the planet and who’s population is exploding from 6.5 billion now to 9
billion in the foreseeable future? We’re not an endangered species. Why would anybody like me,
who FULLY believes in the resourcefulness, ingenuity, and near indestructibility of the human race,
care at all if 2/3 of the people die off in some self-induced environmental natural disaster in 500
years? The world will re-balance, trees will grow in the middle of Times Square, and we start all over
again. In fact, I think it would be pretty sweet. Think of all the good camping spots that would be
available! So bring on CO2! Bring on massive population growth, overcrowding, starvation, and
disease! Guess what? I won’t be here to see it, neither will anyone I know, and the world will finally
be saved.
Dave

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