Mili-Note: Excellent commentary and analysis of the global warming/climate change/AGW question.
Today I’d like to more thoroughly address specific planks of Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory (AGW) that I think deserve further scrutiny. Over the past year AGW rhetoric has reached deafening levels, and advocates have successfully framed the hypothesis as unassailable. Propagandists have yolked AGW with “wise stewardship” and today it’s common for skeptics of AGW to be derided as ignorant anti-environmentalists. But I don’t things are nearly so simple.
Unfortunately, once people become emotionally invested in a position, it can be very difficult to provoke them into changing course. Liberals and progressives hailed the election of Obama as the most wondermous thing since sliced-bread. A year into his presidency, with a battlefield full of broken promises behind him and the insinuation of institutionalized corruption and illegal forced detentions stretching into the foreseeable future, many of those same liberals and progressives have fallen into an exasperated, listless complacency. They became emotionally invested in the “hope” engendered by Obama, and when the reality failed to live up to the myth, they were forced into cognitive dissonance, apathy, or synthesis. If you meet someone who still supports Obama, dig a little and you’ll find the cognitive dissonance – and, I would argue, the same could be said of supporters of AGW.
To get us started, I think we should rehash the essential assumptions of AGW:
• As atmospheric levels of C02 increase, Earth’s median temperature increases.
• As Earth’s median temperature increases, atmospheric imbalances precipitate increases in the frequency and strength of weather events (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts).
• Humans are directly exacerbating this process through the burning of fossil fuels and any activity that yields C02 as a byproduct.
• Increased median temperatures are melting the polar ice caps and causing glaciers to recede or vanish.
Since AGW has the pleasant benefit of being a bonafide scientific theory, it suggests falsifiable claims. If these claims can be demonstrated invalid, the theory is in need of reconsideration. On the other hand, if emotional investment and cognitive dissonance are high enough, no amount of contradictory data will matter. Young Earth Creationists make a fine example of this psychopathology. In spite of overwhelming tangible evidence that their theory is invalid, they fall back on dogma or the Bible – and no amount of science will provoke them into reconsidering their position. Thankfully, AGW is far easier to in/validate than dogma/the Bible, because it makes so many suppositions that are easily testable.
Let’s begin with the most crucial component of AGW – C02. Here’s a graph of historical global C02 levels and temperatures. According to their analysis: “Current climate levels of both C02 and global temperatures are relatively low versus past periods. Throughout time, C02 and temperatures have been radically different and have gone in different directions. As this graph reveals, there is little, if any correlation, between an increase of C02 and a resulting increase in temperatures.”
If we realize that C02’s correlation with global temperature is not a given, the entire edifice of AGW begins to crumble. Therefore, it’s difficult to get adherents of AGW to accept the implications of this data. Again and again they’ll fall back on the assumption that the correlation between C02 and global temperatures is incontrovertible, but they must avoid an ever-expanding amount of dissonant data:
Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT’s peer reviewed work states “we now know that the effect of CO2 on temperature is small, we know why it is small, and we know that it is having very little effect on the climate.”
The global surface temperature record, which we update and publish every month, has shown no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years. Statistically-significant global cooling has now persisted for very nearly eight years. Even a strong el Nino – expected in the coming months – will be unlikely to reverse the cooling trend. More significantly, the ARGO bathythermographs deployed throughout the world’s oceans since 2003 show that the top 400 fathoms of the oceans, where it is agreed between all parties that at least 80% of all heat caused by manmade “global warming” must accumulate, have been cooling over the past six years. That now prolonged ocean cooling is fatal to the “official” theory that “global warming” will happen on anything other than a minute scale. – (Science & Public Policy Institute: Monthly CO2 Report: July 2009)
“Just how much of the “Greenhouse Effect” is caused by human activity?
It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not.
This point is so crucial to the debate over global warming that how water vapor is or isn’t factored into an analysis of Earth’s greenhouse gases makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one.” – (Geocraft)
Despite the apparent bias of many climate researchers, they do have one thing right; carbon levels have risen notably over the twentieth century from about 300 ppm to 375 ppm. While still far from the estimated levels of around 3,000 ppm during the time of the dinosaurs (appr. 150 MYA), the rising levels do mark a legitimate trend. However, there is increasing evidence that the rising carbon, contrary to alarmist reports is actually having remarkably little effect on global temperatures.
A new study authored by Susan Solomon, lead author of the study and a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. could explain why atmospheric carbon is not contributing to warming significantly. According to the study, as carbon levels have risen, the cold air at high altitudes over the tropics has actually grown colder. The lower temperatures at this “coldest point” have caused global water vapor levels to drop, even as carbon levels rise.
Water vapor helps trap heat, and is a far the strongest of the major greenhouse gases, contributing 36–72 percent of the greenhouse effect. However more atmospheric carbon has actually decreased water vapor levels. Thus rather than a “doomsday” cycle of runaway warming, Mother Earth appears surprisingly tolerant of carbon, decreasing atmospheric levels of water vapor — a more effective greenhouse gas — to compensate. – (Daily Tech)
Next, let’s further consider the hypothetical tangential effects of AGW – e.g., rising global temperatures melt icecaps, etc.: