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Global Warming in Academia

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Anyone remotely familiar with American politics understands the fervent passions evoked by the issue of global warming. Both sides claim that intense political, financial and social pressures have biased the opposing side. I find both sides at fault on this issue. We must move beyond this. I have written this article based on personal observations – not for the purpose of creating an argument on either side, but with the hope that it will change the way we debate the issue.

The necessity of making in-depth scientific debate between a few dozen experts publicly understandable has confounded real discussion at every corner. The fact is the vast majority of the American public lacks the cognitive capacity to understand the finer details of the debate. And the vast majority of those who have the capacity lack the time or interest. Do not delude yourself; everyone here, myself included, falls into one of these categories.

I myself believe that a majority of global warming the past century was due to man. However, I am a skeptic of the more dire temperature predictions, consequences and anyone who claims  a definitive understanding of climate. The effects of solar radiation and the PDO relative to C02 is debatable. You can find a brief summary for arguments against anthropogenic global warming here. However, I do not doubt that some of the warming this century has been due to man. I will not make the scientific argument for AGW here. If you are not aware of it, or do not understand it, you need to do some research. I suggest the Wikipedia page for a start.

I hereby condemn false arguments and bias on both sides of the debate. Skepticism is a virtue, but it must be evenly dispensed. As a college student at what most of you would consider a liberal northeastern college, most students and professors I am exposed to unequivocally accept AGW, false observations of global warming, and dire predictions of its consequences. I was inspired to write this by a recent example of such unintended bias.

This evening my roommate attended a lecture by one of his professors in which the professor told the audience it has warmed in February, March and April during sugar maple tapping season. He has been a resident at the college for 34 years and taps over 1,000 trees in the spring. I, an amateur meteorologist, doubted this claim. In fact, the last F/M/A period 1992-2007 averaged .5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than during 1976-1991 (F: +.25; M: -.9; A: -1.1). I sent an email to the professor which read:

Dear Professor ****,

I attended your lecture this evening which I enjoyed greatly. However, I am somewhat of an amateur meteorologist and I had some issue with the claim that February/March/April has warmed in VT over the last 30 or so years as well as the idea that most climate changes within the past 30 years in VT have been due to global warming. The last 16 Feb-April periods have been an average of over .5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the 16 previous periods in Burlington (F: +.25; M: -.9; A: -1.1). It also reached +50F frequently prior to 1970 as well as several +60 records. Furthermore, I think a majority of Vermont's climate change within the last 30 or 40 years is explained by regional and multidecadal oscillations in climate independent of global warming. I do not mention this to diminish the importance of sustainable agriculture or fighting global warming but because I think it is critical to present global warming in a scientifically defensible manner.

Sincerely,
*******

About Pleasexcusetheinterruption

  • Clavos

    Excellent article, PETI.

    As you know, I am very much of a skeptic in regard to the extent of the amount of anthropogenesis involved in GW, so i was particularly interested in reading your POV.

    It’s a good, balanced presentation, with lots of food for thought.

    I worry that the True Believers will, in their zeal, rush us all into taking measures that will ultimately have little benefit, but heavy (even unsustainable) financial and societal costs.

    You’re right, there’s a lot of fevered palaver on both sides, which is a dangerous situation, fraught with the possibility of disaster.

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    Excellent article. It only hurts one’s argument and the community’s understanding if “the experts” allow their bias to drive them. Of course, complexity is part of the disagreement.

    Could you please give me a reference for your Vermont historical temperatures. I am not even an amateur meteorologist. I’m not easily finding them.

    Also,

    What do you make of this government publication about Vermont and local climate change. How does it relate to your own assessment?

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    The paper is ten years old, published in 1998, so doesn’t reflect data after that date, which on a global level, has mostly been cooling, not warming.

    Beyond that one observation, I have no comment.

    (I know. You asked PETI, not me) :>)

  • moon

    I am afraid I do not get this article.

    What is the writer asking us to do?

    I, for one, am still busily selling that beachfront property in Nebraska–there are a few lots left.

  • Baronius

    Peti – Interesting article. Also kind of a relief to read something in the Politics section that isn’t about the horse race.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Could you please give me a reference for your Vermont historical temperatures. I am not even an amateur meteorologist. I’m not easily finding them.

    Sure thing, right here. All the way back to the 1880s. You’ll note if you pick other months besides F/M/A the temp trends are warmer. The past 16 decembers are over 3 degrees warmer than the previous 16 if I remember correctly. I didn’t do it for the yearly temps for the past 32 years but feel free if you have time.

    I just think a lot of global warming alarmists need to stop seeing global warming at every turn.. Even if F/M/A had been warmer it might not have anything to do with global warming. I think one reason F/M/A have been cooler the past 16 years is we’ve had a lot of -NAOs (high latitude blocking downstream) in March and April recently which correlates strongly with cooler temperatures. We haven’t had a sustained -NAO in mid winter for a long time which is why you will find J and D have warmed. So even if the Professor was correct, it might not have been global warming.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    What do you make of this government publication about Vermont and local climate change. How does it relate to your own assessment?

    Well Cindy all of it’s predictions seem to be based on one climate model – the HadCM2 – which I know nothing about. Every prediction in the article is based entirely off of that climate model though. A quick search gave me this from the Marshall Institute (which I also know nothing about):

    “In light of our discussion, climate models should be thought of as useful tools to assess our understanding of the climate system and to examine interrelationships among various components of the climate system. At present, and at least into the foreseeable future, the uncertainties associated with model simulations make their projections only a single possible scenario, at best. Historically, assessments of climate change have steadily become less extreme as more climate feedback mechanisms are included in the models. Overall, it appears that anthropogenic climate change estimates are still uncertain (given the discrepancies between most models) and scenarios derived from still incomplete GCMs should not be used to assess future climate change or make national assessments.”

    I’m not even sure that these models take into account any regional changes in weather which might occur.. and given the information in that quote cherry picking one doesn’t seem to be the best way to make predictions about agriculture etc.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Not saying it won’t warm in VT – it already has warmed a degree or so.. and will probably keep rising – but economic impact predictions based off of these quantitative models should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • pablo

    Global warming is a scam perpetrated by the globalists as laid out in the book by The Club of Rome in 1972 “Limits to Growth”. In that book the ruling elite spelled out their plan to use this bs, to further their agenda of globalism.

    If interested google Maurice Strong AND Rothschild.

  • http://earthmatters.spaces.live.com/ pete best

    There is nothing in this peice that from a perspective of AGW makes an difference to the science which is quite comprehensive and worrying from both a modeling and paleoclimatic perspective.

    When people say they doubt the future clmate models predictions then I am amused somewhat for the models have demonstrated their scientific credibility. The solutions may also waste billions but we only have a few technologies we can use cost effectively at the present time to combat GHG emissions and hence we have lacked the R&D to resolve this issue.

    The science if AGW is very sound, sure we do not know everything but that does not mean it is useless and we should forget all about it.

  • Cindy D

    National Snow and Ice Data Center

    Press Release
    2 October 2008

    Arctic Sea Ice Down to Second-Lowest Extent; Likely Record-Low Volume

    Despite cooler temperatures [my emphasis] and ice-favoring conditions, long-term decline continues

    Arctic sea ice extent during the 2008 melt season dropped to the second-lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, reaching the lowest point in its annual cycle of melt and growth on September 14, 2008.

    Look some facts hot off the scientific “press” so to speak. Have a look around these sites including The World Glacier Monitoring Service. (These links and more are also available at the last article I post here.)

    Joint UNEP/WGMS report on global glacier changes released on September 1st, 2008!

    Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures

    There is mounting evidence that climate change is triggering a shrinking and thinning of many glaciers world-wide which may eventually put at risk water supplies for hundreds of millions — if not billions — of people. Data gaps exist in some vulnerable parts of the globe undermining the ability to provide precise early warning for countries and populations at risk. If the trend continues and governments fail to agree on deep and decisive emission reductions at the crucial UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, it is possible that glaciers may completely disappear from many mountain ranges in the 21st century.

    This excellent article form 2005 (still valid)

    Earth – melting in the heat?

    Predictions vary from the catastrophic to the cataclysmic.

    Glaciers are melting, the ice caps disappearing into the oceans. Sea levels may rise by many metres as a consequence.

    Indigenous Arctic peoples will find their food stocks gone, while fresh water supplies in Asia and south America will disappear as the glaciers which provide them melt away; penguins, polar bears and seals will find their habitats gone, their traditional lives unliveable.

    But how realistic is this picture? Is the world’s ice really disappearing, or is it unscientific hot air?

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    Re-focus.

    Nobody on this thread’s arguing that the world is NOT warming…

  • Cindy D

    Okay Clav,

    Here is my re-focus. In a nutshell, global warming is and has been disproportionately affecting Alaska’s indigenous populations. Its consequences have been felt for some time. It’s not very shocking that populations that live in accord with and rely on their connection with the natural world would be affected first and more severely.

    So, in order for one to say that the consequences won’t be that dire, one would have to ignore what is happening. Because it’s just happening to people we don’t really care about and therefore don’t really consider.

    We only think things are dire when they affect us directly. That is a problem.

    So, to conclude–I request that anyone who wants to present a fair opinion, please take this into consideration. Not just regarding the Inuit, but peoples and populations other than ourselves.

    Thank you.

  • Clavos

    Fair enough, Cindy.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption


    When people say they doubt the future clmate models predictions then I am amused somewhat for the models have demonstrated their scientific credibility.

    Are you sure about that? I read something last night saying these models are usually tweaked significantly because the raw data and equations used in them don’t accurately predict the climate today. Now it may be that after this tweaking they can accurately predict the future.. but are you so sure? Read the review of climate models I linked to in post #7.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Global warming is a scam perpetrated by the globalists as laid out in the book by The Club of Rome in 1972 “Limits to Growth”. In that book the ruling elite spelled out their plan to use this bs, to further their agenda of globalism.

    If interested google Maurice Strong AND Rothschild.

    That’s exactly the kind of character attack and irrelevant argumentation this piece was referring to. There is no conspiracy theory. I doubt most of the climatologists these days have read or heard of the Club of Rome. There are plenty of independent hard working brilliant meteorologists and climatologists who attribute a significant share of the earth’s warming to man.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Okay Cindy, but that doesn’t prove that all the warming in Alaska is due to man or that we can do anything about it. I think a lot will be revealed in the next 20 years about global warming. We are currently heading into a solar minimum and a pacific cool regime, if these two factors fail to cause the earth to cool over the next 20 years, it will be pretty solid evidence that the majority (as opposed to a fraction) of warming has been and will be due to man. In the meantime I suggest we take measures to reduce C02 emissions and prepare our infrastructure for more drastic action. We should seriously invest in renewable resources. This investment will not only benefit the climate, but our economy as well by reducing the trade deficit. We should impose environmental restrictions on industry to reduce C02, but not in a crippling manner. We should participate in world-wide talks in reaching word-wide industry standards, such as Kyoto. We should set realistic expectations for C02 emissions reductions for the U.S. as a whole.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Clavos, I have to ask.. in retrospect do you think the U.S. should have participated in Kyoto?

  • Clavos

    PETI #15,

    One has only to look at the various computer model forecast tracks for hurricanes produced by NOAA to realize that the science of meteorological and climatological computer modeling is:

    A) In its infancy
    B) Subject to broad variations produced by relatively small “tweaks.”
    C) Such tweaks are as much educated guess as they are hard science.

  • Clavos

    PETI #17,

    Excellent post.

    Re the CO2 restrictions on industry you propose; I agree, what you propose makes much more sense than the carbon cap-and-trade schemes currently being bandied about; I think those will be ineffective and inflationary.

    RE your #18:

    Yes, because, by being present we probably would have held a leadership position and been able to ensure that the results were rational and beneficial (to the world, as well as to US). As it was, without our support, Kyoto flopped, but without our participation it also wasn’t very successful in terms of the ideas and proposals that came out of it, so it was good that it flopped.