Global warming

Hi Grit

The issue of global warming seems to create so many arguments and the media particularly appears to be embarking upon a “fear-mongering” campaign. However, there are still some questions in my mind that need to be addressed, so I hope you don’t mind me posting a rather long item on the subject.

Is global warming as bad as it is made out to be?

In truth, no one has produced a definitive answer to this question. Scientific evidence is divided on the issue and the basis for much of the argument put forward in support of global warming can be questioned. Although I agree that we should take protective measures to care for the environment, in my view there are not enough facts to make a judgement as to how bad global warming really is. Similarly, the effectiveness and suitability of measures being taken to address the issue have not been adequately researched. To illustrate these points, it is worth looking at a sample of the specifics in more detail. 

GLOBAL WARMING INDICATORS 

1) Manmade. 

Whilst there is evidence that carbon dioxide has an impact upon global warming, no one has yet been able to determine the exact level of impact that human activity has upon it. Are we responsible for 10% or 100%? Surely, it is important to know this because it is difficult to control something that we cannot quantify. 

Even carbon dioxide is not totally to blame. If you look at the graph produced at http://www.giss.nasa.gov, entitled “Global Temperature v CO2 1940-1970, it will be noted that whilst CO2 rose consistently during that period, temperatures actually fell on a consistent basis.    

2) The Melting of icecaps and glaciers. 

Significant media attention is being given to stress the point that the icecaps and glaciers are melting, but is this a reality. Let us take Antarctica as an example, where it is stated that the melting is at an alarming rate. It is possible to produce scientific research results, all conducted in this century that find the opposite to be true. Below are quoted just three. 

P. Doran et.al (2002). Nature 415: 517-20. “From 1986-2000 central Antarctic valleys cooled 7 degrees per decade.”

J.C. Comiso (2000). Journal of Climate 13: 1674-96. “Satellite data and ground stations show slight cooling over the last twenty years.”

D. Thompson and S. Solomon (2002). Science 296: 895-99 “Antarctic peninsular has warmed several degrees while interior has cooled somewhat. Ice shelves have retreated, but sea ice has increased.” 

In terms of glaciers, it has been indicated that these are melting and withdrawing. Is this data correct? In reality, there are around 160,000 glaciers in the world, yet only seventy-nine have been studied in depth over a reasonable period. (H. Kieffer et.al. 2000. American Geophysical Union 81: 265, 270-71). Thus, the truth is that no one knows for sure. One of the prime examples used in support of the glacier melting theory is Kilimanjaro. However, this glacier has been melting since the 1800’s. It is believed by experts that deforestation is the cause of this and that, if they are replanted, the glacier will increase in size. (Betsy Mason (2003). Nature 24, November 2003). 

3) Weather Worsening. 

It is claimed that the weather is worsening and, in support of that claim, phenomena such as El Nino’s and Hurricanes are used as examples. El Nino’s occur about every four years and last for roughly eighteen months. However, they have been occurring for centuries and therefore precede the global warming threat. (Biorn Lomberg (2002). The Sceptical Environmentalist, Cambridge University Press.) With regard to hurricanes, a graph from http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/postdec.shtml, entitled “US Hurricane strikes by decade 1900-2004,” shows that, apart from the 1940’s, which were particularly active, strikes have not increased in number.  

4) Is it global? 

One also has to question where it is right to use the term global in regards to warming. Charts available from the United States Historical Climatology Network casts doubt on this. For example when comparing New York and Albany, both in New York state, it shows that for the period 1820 to 2000, New York temperatures rose 5 degrees (F) and Albany reduced by half a degree. Other data shows that there are sharp differences when comparing temperature data from the US with data from Europe and the same is the position around the world. If this proves that warming is not a global phenomena, then is it right to attack the issue with a global plan? Should it not be addressed on a localised basis? 

There is two other interesting fact to come out of this chart data. One is how different reference points (span of years) can completely alter the picture. For example, if one looks at West Point for the years a) 1931-2000, b) 1900-2000 and c) 1826-2000, the temperature movement is a) a fall, b) a rise and c) no discernable difference. 

The second point addresses the issue of carbon dioxide being responsible for global warming. Albany and New York are only 130 miles apart and they both have the same carbon dioxide levels. If carbon dioxide is the cause, why is it that the temperature movement in these two areas are so diverse? 

5) Predictions.  

There have been a number of predictions in regards to when Global warming will become a problem, how much temperatures will rise by, sea level rises etc. How accurate are these? Not very is the answer. For example, in 1988 James E. Hansen predicted that the earth would warm by .35 degrees Celsius in the following decade. The reality was that it increased by .11. That is a margin of error of over 300 percent. Similar errors have been made in other predictive research. How can we accurately predict the effect of counter measures if we cannot accurately predict the original data that these are based upon? You cannot say that a turn of 90 degrees left from due north will take you west if you do not know whether north is in the first place. 

CORRECTIVE MEASURES 

1) Alternative energy. 

Internationally, there have been calls for changing the energy sources, claiming that alternatives, such as solar, wave etc. can meet our needs. This is not proven and, in addition, reports suggest that energy use will triple by 2050. Martin Hoffert et.al. (2002), in science 298 (1 November 2002) stated, “energy sources that can produce 100 to 300% of present world power consumption without greenhouse emissions do not exist.”    

2) Natural environment management 

Whilst many attempts have been made at managing natural resources, it seems that man has not mastered this sufficiently to date. The Yellowstone Park in the US is a classic example. The intention was to create a natural environment that would last. However, what was not taken into account was the every-changing structure of nature and all that happened was that in this instance the natural environment was made worse. (See Playing God in Yellowstone Park: The destruction of America’s first National Park (1986), New York: Atlantic) 

What does not seem to be allowed for in such instances is the natural balance that nature maintains. If you disturb plant and tree growth or animal population, the is a resultant cost. For example change tree species and it can have an adverse effect on wildlife and the land around it. Similarly, artificially reduce predators and the resultant increase in their prey numbers may damage the plant structure. 

3) Kyoto Agreement 

Many have hailed the Kyoto agreement as the most effective answer to global warming. However, even if the US were to sign up to this agreement, the reduction it would have is to reduce global warming by the year 2100 by between .04 and .28 of a degree Celsius. (See IPCC publications and Bjorn Lomberg). If the predictions of the problem are to be relied on these levels, will not sufficient to address the issue effectively. 

The conclusion from this is that we simply do not know how bad global warming is. Neither can we be sure that the measures being taken to address it are effective. The problem is that if one says to a scientist “there is an issue here, can you look into it?” the natural human tendency is for research to concentrate on finding the issue, without addressing the possibility that it may not exist. Therefore, even if it is sub-conscious, the potential for data to be manipulated to prove the point exists. Similarly, if you do not accurately know the level of the problem, how can you be sure to take the correct measures to address it? 

There is no doubt that more research is required, but it is also important in my view, that the conflicting data is analysed, compared and evaluated in an effort to achieve a more definitive and accurate interpretation of all the facts. Only then can we consider the best and most effective measures, if needed, to address the issues.  

There is one final point I would like to make. If one accepts that there is global warming and the human race can do something about halting or reducing it, will we be able to stop the reversal at the right time? In other words, if we succeed in measures that achieve a year on year reduction of temperature, will we be in a position to stop the process at an optimum temperature level, or will the reducing measures continue, sending us into a period of global cooling that might have equally devastating effects on us and the planet?

the Brit

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22 Responses to “Global warming”

  1. Sammy Roberts Says:

    I am sure your readers will recall the horrific death of Afican villegers several years back. A gas seeping from the lake killed a large number as they slept. The gas was co2. Its source was from volcano activity beneath the lake.
    This finding led to many other lakes near active zones. This was alarming that exposure to concentrated co2 exists all over the world even fron ocean vents.
    A single eruption such as Mont St Helens can produce as much co2 as all sources in USA does for more than 5 years. So I suppose we must start plugging all those vents!!

  2. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Sammy

    Thanks for the comments. Exactly my point in saying that how much is our causing?

    regards

    the Brit

  3. tamino Says:

    Sammy Roberts couldn’t be more wrong.

    A single eruption such as Mont St Helens can produce as much co2 as all sources in USA does for more than 5 years.

    Wrong. The CO2 emissions from the Mt. St. Helens eruption is measured in megatons; the CO2 emissions from the U.S. alone in one year is measured in gigatons. One giga = 1000 mega.

    Look at the measured atmospheric concentration of CO2 from Mauna Loa atmospheric observatory. There’s a clearly visible steady rise (from human activity), and a clearly visible annual cycle (due to the respiration of land plants). There’s even a clearly visible, albeit brief, levelling off around 1992 which is often attributed to the collapse of the economy of the former Soviet Union. But there’s no visible (or detectable in any way) sign of any increase due to Mt. St. Helens, or to El Chicon (bigger than Mt. St. Helens), or to the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo (also bigger than Mt. St. Helens).

    Mr. Roberts is just regurgitating what he’s heard from unreliable sources; this is one of the oldest, and frankly most idiotic, arguments in the entire debate. But this is the norm for global warming denialists. They make ridiculous claims that have no basis in fact — that are often easily refuted if you just look at the data — but rely on the fact that most readers won’t check the facts.

    By the way, you say in your post that these issues “need to be addressed.” I’ll address them. Perhaps you even expected that I would! It’s a long post, so it’ll take a day or so. I’ll post the response on my own blog, and let you know when it’s up.

  4. britandgrit Says:

    Hi tamino,

    You may have noticed we added you to our blogroll, figuring that GW might keep popping up 😉 Oh, and while you’re at it, if you stumble across carbon sink data, for the US in particular, kindly point me to it. After all, that was one of the big flaws in the Kyoto treaty.

    the Grit

  5. tamino Says:

    I’ve posted a commentary on certain aspects of this post, at my blog (you can get there through my username). Enjoy!

  6. Fran Manns, Toronto Says:

    Anthropogenic global warming is no more than a hypothesis. Solar activity, coupled with cosmic radiation from supernova in deep space is the most likely cause. There is a 95% correlation between temperatures and sunspot peak frequency. In 2006, the Danish National Space Center published the results of an experiment whereby they showed cosmic radiation could cause clouds on earth and effect weather. The cosmic bombardment is dependant on solar magnetic activity , geomagnetic activity nad the sunspot cycle. No correlation with CO2…

    I can send a power point if you send an email to artesian1atsympaticodotca.

  7. Dear Brit « inel Says:

    […] too, so I enjoy reading your transatlantic banter. However, I must admit to being surprised that your post titled Global warming was penned by Brit and not Grit, as all the arguments that Brit quotes are ones that are raised […]

  8. britandgrit Says:

    Hi all

    Thanks for your comments.

    Tamino, I will read your post with interest. The intention of my post was to generate response and discussion, as you rightly surmised. I am interested in knowing the facts rather than the media hype.

    Fran Manns, again I would like to vuew the information that you have outlined and have sent you an e-mail.

    inel, Grit and I share many of the same concerns on the subject. Guess I just got there first.

    Thanks again and I look forward to developments.

    the Brit

  9. inel Says:

    Dear Brit,

    Since you and Grit share many of the same concerns, why are you asking Grit for an answer?

    I would be interested to know what you make of my answers in my post, which could in no way be described as media hype, and I have something for you to listen to one day here.

  10. britandgrit Says:

    Hi inel

    I will look at your comments on your blogs and study them. I hope that others do too.

    In the near future I will respond to all the comments being made here with a further post.

    the Brit

  11. Andrew Dodds Says:

    Regarding the ‘Alternative Energy’ tag –

    Were it used (correctly) in breeder reactors, the world’s current usage of Uranium could supply twice the current world energy supply with negligiable carbon emissions, so the statement given is simply wrong; if we allow nuclear energy then our carbon-free energy usage can increase for the forseeable future (i.e. >100 years).

    In terms of the 1975-present warming, human effects seem to cover around 70-90% of the warming; certainly for human effects to be less, physics would have to be seriously rearranged. If we concentrate on the effects on humans (i.e economic effects), then the greatest problems come from changes in the hydrosphere; either too little water (drought, rivers failing to run) or too much (floods, sea level rises). Our cities represent a vast capital investment based on relatively constant river flows and sea level; AGW threatens to write this off. Agriculture can adapt, but bear in mind that the world has about 10 weeks of food supplies – we can’t lose a single growing season.

    The biggest problem appears to be simple ideological blinkers; like the people posting above who would rather believe anything but the overwhelming scientific evidence in favour of AGW, or the people who use AGW as a stick with which to bash ‘The System’. Political posturing should be replaced with honest appraisal.. but I suspect we’ll explore every other option first.

  12. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Andrew

    Thank you for your comments. There is some merit in trying to take this issue outside of the political arena but, like you, I have my doubts as to whether this can be achieved.

    the Brit

  13. brent Says:

    Fran Manns seems to have the only response which makes a lick of sense.

    Man-made global warming my toe! It’s nothing more than hot gas from my butt after eating a nice bowl of chili.

  14. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Brent,

    And here I was thinking it was due to all the hot air coming out of Washington.

    the Grit

  15. azhar maroof Says:

    It is a matter of facts which may not be denied, whatever Indian Government or their agencies keep saying, that the rate of melting of any Glacier is more where there is more human activity (especially the military activities) as compared to the one having no such infiltrations. The fact may be supported by the following webpages:

    http://www.wwfpak.org/15-01-07meltingofthesiachenglacier.php
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6321351.stm

  16. azhar maroof Says:

    The following doubts described by Mr Pachauri perpetuate doubts even about himself.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1076589

    THE DOUBTS

    Says RK Pachauri, director-general, The Energy and Resources Institute: “A number of scientists say Siachen should be made a protected area, a heritage site of sorts, and that there should be no army presence on either side. For purely ecological reasons, this might be a good idea. But I don’t see why there would be melting as a result of military presence and activity.”

  17. britandgrit Says:

    Hi Guys

    Thanks for the input. I will have a look at the sites you mention

    the Brit

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  20. John.St Says:

    I cannot but wonder if everybody have forgotten to consult the historical records of Arktis and Antarktis?

    See e.g. Kirwan, L.P.: “The White Road. A History of Polar Exploration”, 1959 (page number referring to the Danish version).

    01. 985-. Norse settlements in Greenland. Pollen analysis show mild climate. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 280 ppm

    02. 1817. William Scoresby jr. wrote to John Banks, that on his (Scoresby’s) last journey he saw approximately 2.000 square leagues (45.000 sq km) of sea around Greenland between 74° and 80°N, completely free of ice, and that all this ice had disappeared within the last two years. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 280 ppm

    03. 1831. Biscoe in the brig Tula observed, that the edge of the pack ice had withdrawn considerably since von Bellingshausen’s expedition (1818-21), i.e. within 10-13 years. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 280 ppm

    04. 1839. The Wilkes expedition found that the pack ice had covered the Wedell Sea – during the Wedells expedition app. 10 years previous the Wedell Sea was practically free of ice. Carbon Dioxide Concentration app. 280 ppm

    05. 1871. Hall reached Hall Land (82°N 61°W), mild, green and full of game. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 290 ppm

    06. 1841. The Ross expedition. On a cold and very clear day, from the edge of the ice, they caught a glimpse of Mount Erebus and Mount Terror far to the south. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 280 ppm

    07. 1899. The Borchgrevink expedition. Colbeck’s maps document that you were able to sail to Mount Erebus. The glacier had withdrawn 50 km since the time of the Ross expedition in 1841 – thousands of square kilometers of ice had disappeared. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 300 ppm

    08. 1902. The Discovery expedition found (as already the Borchgrevink expedition had), that the Ross Ice Shelf had withdrawn very far since Ross’ time (1841). Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 300 ppm

    09. 1909. The Nimrod expedition reaches the position of the inlet, where Borchgrevink had gone ashore and found that huge amounts of ice had disappeared, so that the inlet now had become the deep and wide Bay of Whales. Carbon Dioxide Concentration < 300 ppm

    10. 1912-13. The Davis expedition on Aurora. The ice front between King George Land og Kaiser Wilhelm II Land had retreated, same as the Ross Ice Shelf, since the D’Urville expedition (1840). Carbon Dioxide Concentration <280 – 310 ppm

  21. John.St Says:

    Sorry, I seem to have removed the page references in the Englisgh translation – tough luck.

  22. betsy Says:

    as a Borchgrevink, I am thrilled to see that relative Carsten was already monitoring GW in 1899.
    Thanks for the information, John.St

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