Sometimes I find the whole Global Warming frenzy too much to bear. It’s the essence of scientific scaremongering – take questionable data from only those sources which agree with your hypothesis, draw alarmist conclusions, and then use it as a pretext for trying to restructure society around the world to fit a suspect and self-serving social engineering agenda.
The basis of Global Warming theory is the belief that the earth’s temperature has gradually been increasing since the beginning of industrialization in the 1700s, primarily because of increases in carbon dioxide emissions associated with industry, and that by the end of this century the temperature worldwide will reach a point where radical, catastrophic climate change will take place. The presumed danger point is when the average temperature world wide reaches 2 degrees centigrade above what it was in 1750.
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summed up the impact of this 2 degree rise in temperature like this:
- “Beyond the 2°C level, the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly. It is likely, for example, that average temperature increases larger than this will entail substantial agricultural losses, greatly increased numbers of people at risk of water shortages, and widespread adverse health impacts. Exceeding a global average increase of more than 2°C could also imperil a very high proportion of the world’s coral reefs and cause irreversible damage to important terrestrial ecosystems, including the Amazon rainforest. Above the 2°C level, the risks of abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change also increase.”
“The possibilities include reaching climatic tipping points leading, for example, to the loss of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which, between them, could raise sea levels more than ten meters over the space of a few centuries), the shutdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation (and, with it, the Gulf Stream), and the transformation of the planets forests and soils from a net sink of carbon to a net source of carbon.”
Sure sounds grim. Basically the end of the world as we know it. We’re all just walking corpses and don’t know it yet.
But wait. There are a couple of little bits of fact which the Global Warming alarmists aren’t telling you.
The first is that the warming trend which supposedly started with the industrial revolution is actually clearly part of a climate cycle which goes back considerably farther in history. During the late Middle Ages (around 1300) there was a ‘mini ice-age’ where the global temperature declined by several degrees. As that cool period ended the temperature around the world began to gradually increase, starting well before the industrial period and at a rate which did not change significantly once industrialization began. The rate of temperature increase has been so small and so gradual during that period that if industrialization had been a meaningful contributor at all it would be easily noticable as a disturbance in what is essentially a slow linear increase in temperature.
The second is that only now, after 400 years of warming have we reached the same global temperature we enjoyed in the year 1000. If it took us 1000 years to return to that peak temperature – which was less than 1 degree higher than the low temperature of the 1300s – why shouldn’t it take us another 2000 years to gain that next 2 degrees they claim are coming our way?
On very little evidence they maintain that the rate of temperature increase is accelerating. This is based almost entirely on a brief temperature spike in the late 1990s which has since leveled out. They keep making up new computer models to project possible temperatures, but the fact is that the actual temperature trends of the last five years just don’t support global warming and there isn’t enough long-term data which clearly supports an acceleration of global warming to draw any conclusions about it. The methodology being used by Global Warming advocates is incredibly suspect. They try to compare temperature measurements from radically different sources – air temperatures, water temperatures, ground level temperatures in selected areas – which may not be comparable, usually picking and choosing the type of measurement based on whether it supports their hypothesis.
Finally, the variation in temperature from one climate region to another is enormously more than 2 degrees. The Gulf Stream causes much more warming than that on the east coast of North America. In fact, one of their claims is that the Gulf Stream would shut down or move. This would lower the temperature on the East Coast of the US much much more than global warming could ever raise it. A temperature inversion zone can temporarily alter temperatures in a region by five times that 2 degree figure. A slight change in the route of the jetstream can alter temperature far more than 2 degrees for an extended period of time over large areas of the world. This suggests that a change that small would be no more devastating to the environment than normal fluctuations in weather patterns.
Does this mean Global Warming does not exist? No. It’s clear that the earth has been warming up gradually and consistently for several centuries. What it does suggest is that Global Warming is part of a natural cycle and not necessarily significantly impacted by human activity. The level of hydrocarbon production from human sources is still very low compared to natural sources of hydrocarbons. Even one new active volcano would dwarf all human activity in a matter of weeks. We’re really very lucky that the last 100 years have been so unusually low in volcanic activity. High volcanic activity is what likely launched the mini ice age of the Middle Ages.
Does this mean that the US should not participate in the Kyoto Accords which went into effect last month? Not joining Kyoto was a political decision made for very good reasons, however. Because the Kyoto accords put no restrictions at all on major emerging industrial nations like India, Mexico and China – which will each likely surpass the US in hydrocarbon production in the next decade – it is an enormously flawed and inequitable treaty. Kyoto doesn’t take into consideration the level of industry in a country or the amount of hydrocarbon production relative to industrial output. The US may produce 25% of the hydrocarbons in the world, but at the same time we have over 50% of the industrial output, which means that our hydrocarbon production is actually quite low compared to other countries. China’s industrial output is still considerably lower than ours, but because of their focus on heavy industries and reliance on coal power their hydrocarbon output is much higher in proportion to their industrial production. Almost all US hydrocarbon output comes from motor vehicles which are becoming more efficient all the time and are not increasing in number all that much because our population growth is slow. Our hydrocarbon output can be expected to decline substantially on its own while countries like China rocket up in their output with no Kyoto restrictions. The fact that Kyoto does not address this issue makes it a very poor response to the issue it is supposed to address, and it really makes no sense for the US to support it.
All of this makes me rather skeptical, but then I’m sitting here in Texas where, after having had a record cold and wet year in 2004, we’re now enjoying the wettest Spring in recorded history. I moved here years ago lured by the temperate, dry weather which allowed lots of out door activity in the Spring and Fall, but I’m learning to live with constant cold, rain and mud. In the past month we’ve had 2 days of sunshine, though it has at least been slightly warmer than the record cold temperatures we had throughout February last year. Yet the trend for this year is already clear – another cooler, very wet year with record low highs in the summer and cool rainy weather in the Spring and Fall. Sure doesn’t sound like Global Warming to me, just the usual shifting of weather patterns.