Even If CO2 Doesn’t Kill Mankind, Climate Change Will

by Luna Flesher

I am a global warming agnostic.  I stick my toe in the water every year or so check the temperature on both sides of the debate.  I tend to waffle around somewhere just barely on either side of the fence.  There’s a lot of convincing data on both sides, and I really think science hasn’t come far enough to know either way.  It’s as if two astrologers have gazed into the same crystal ball and come up with completely different futures.

First you have a majority of scientists who firmly believe global anthropogenic (man-made) climate change (warming) is occurring due to carbon dioxide emissions.  In fact, some now say it is inevitable, and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  I can’t believe this is due to a sinister, anti-capitalist conspiracy here because far too many smart scientists have made this conclusion.  They might be mistaken, but they are not all “in on it”.

There is an overwhelming amount of data to indicate global temperatures are on the rise.  You have atmospheric and oceanic measurements of temperatures.  You have massive local weather fluctuations.  You have the melting ice caps.  You have plants that bloom at all the wrong times.

To confuse matters, scientists are actually noting a more recent cooling trend in very recent years.  Scientists retain existing warming theories, blaming various  conditions such as regular oceanic current cycles.

Some fringe scientists claim warming now will actually trigger an ice age.

Whether it’s cooling or warming, something certainly seems to be going on with the climate, even if it seems no one can be entirely sure what.

Then you have the debate on what is causing climate change.  Obviously the prevailing theory it that it’s caused by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, due of course to fossil fuel consumption.

There is certainly a historical correlation between CO2 conditions and average global temperatures.  However, I have one small doubt: the classical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for “After this, therefore because of this”. Just because Event B happens after Event A, does not mean Event A was the cause.  This is also known in statistics as correlation does not imply causation. It’s an easy one to fall for, even for scientists.

Here is an example of why we might have a CO2 to temperature correlation where Co2 is not the cause.

We all know that decaying vegetable matter releases CO2. The more plants, the more CO2 can decay once that plant dies.  Increased global temperature increases the percentage of landmass viable for plant growth, and increases vegetation densities all over.  The Keeling Curve shows how plant decay produces sharp ups and downs of CO2 each year as things die off the fall and grow in the spring.  We have no way of knowing how increased vegetation over entire landmasses would increase CO2 levels for us to find in the ice eons later.

To further my point on cause vs. effect, we have been recently told the current trend of warming will thaw now-frozen plant matter, which will increase CO2 even further.  How do we know the spikes in CO2 in our distant past weren’t caused by some arbitrary warming factor thawing once-frozen tundra, suddenly releasing ages-old carbon as is now happening?

Global warming could just as possibly cause CO2.

CO2 greenhouse theory itself becomes shaky in light of saturation theory. Greenhouse theory states gases absorb sunlight as energy as it bounces off the earth’s surface and back into space.  However, CO2 can only absorb certain bandwidths of light.  Other greenhouses gases also absorb light, each with its own bands.  Water vapor absorbs the most energy from the highest number of frequencies, and is responsible for 90% of atmospheric heat absorption. There is some crossover, for example water absorbs some of the same frequencies of light as carbon, methane, and so on.  Once a gas has absorbed 100% of the bandwidths of light that it can, it can no longer retain any further energy.  All the other frequencies of light pass through.

Saturation theory concludes that carbon will increase temperatures only so much, until its entire range of light has been absorbed, and then it will stop.

To add one more little push as I lean over the fence, there is a new study showing how global warming models are not following their predicted paths. The paper is out of MIT, and is written by a highly respected atmospheric scientist.

The Little Ice Age showed us the earth can suddenly change climates for geologically short periods of time.  History records, and geological records corroborate, that the earth plunged into a period of cold starting as early as 1350 and ending possibly in the 1850’s, with many decades-long ups and downs interspersed.  1816 was known as the Year Without Summer.  Europe and the Americas suffered off-and-on periods of mass starvation.

This was not caused by man. It was caused by the whims of nature, and proves to me just how much at the mercy of the environment we are.

My conclusion, for now, is that the climate is probably changing, and this could very likely have a devastating effect on sea levels, food supply, weather, and ecological habitats.

I doubt it is caused by man, but I remain agnostic on this point as well.

Either way, I absolutely think we should place less effort into building computer models of CO2 effects, which is like counting angels on the head of a pin, and more towards preparing ourselves for the coming disasters.

Maybe there is some crazy idea that could cool the earth no matter what its cause, like David Keith’s proposal to use sulfate particulates in the stratosphere.

The Little Ice Age caused starvation because it took so many years to discover which crops grew well in colder conditions.  We need to get scientists like Normal Borlaug to recommend plants and agricultural methods for various scenarios, and then we need to stock up on the right seeds.

How can we apply ingenuity to save our coastal cities should sea levels rise? How can we protect our water supply if all the glaciers melt? Where will be buy swimsuits in January if stores won’t stock them until May?

In seriousness, perhaps we’re spending a lot of time and money on trying to answer the wrong question — not “Is climate change happening”, nor even, “How can we prevent it?”, but “Now that it’s happening, how can we keep humanity safe and living with a high quality of life?”

Published in: on August 28, 2009 at 6:14 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “There is certainly a historical correlation between CO2 conditions and average global temperatures.”

    You are aware that the correlation is reversed in the Geological/historical record, right? Ice cores over the past 800,000 years have shown that the earth’s temperature changes before a corresponding change in CO2; Temperature goes up, and later CO2 goes up. The average delay is 800 years later. And the historical correlation is very strong that global warming causes increases in CO2, not the other way around. Almost no Greens are aware of this little flaw in their precious AGW theory.

    “we have been recently told the current trend of warming will thaw now-frozen plant matter”

    The thawing of permafrost has been continuous since the last ice age. About 20,000 years ago the planet began to warm up again and at that time permafrost extended all the way down past the 49th parallel. It was been thawing steadily in a northward direction ever since, all the while releasing the evil CO2 trapped within. There is nothing new here. And by the way, 20,000 years ago the polar bear range also extended down to this parallel as well, and has been steadily reduced since the last ice age. There is nothing new here either.

    It astonishes me how much hysteria bad science and media hype can generate.

  2. As Michael Medved recently told a caller, “I think you should get out a little more often.” The following link will give some very entertaining counterpoints to the G-W fiasco.

    It is from the CEI (admittedly a biased business organization) http://ceiondemand.org/2009/07/17/policy-peril-global-warming/ You should compare their bias with that of the politicians that appear on almost every G-W alarmist website on Google. They just want Tax money rather than supplying a service or product for it.

    OR, you could just plot the dates of your links against pro G-W and con G-W. You will find that most alarmist data comes from 2004 or earlier. Most others come from 2008-9 data which shows cooling, not warming.

    Climate always changes. The edge of the Sahara desert moved some 20 miles between 1917 and 1950, engulfing stands of tall trees. That was well before the SUV was designed. And guess what, IT WASN’T MY FAULT! And, G-W is not being caused by my mini-van, or even by Al Gore’s $30,000 per year utility bill.

    Let’s just vote full-salary full-time vacations for the politicians and tell them to leave us alone!

    I can dream, can’t I?

    • Sure. You did read my entire post, right? Where I said I’m global warming agnostic. There is good data and good faith efforts to make sound scientific conclusions on both sides of the debate.

      I concluded I still don’t know if man-made CO2 causes climate change, that I THINK IT UNLIKELY, but that in either case, the climate seems to be changing and unless we plan for contingencies, we put humanity at risk.

  3. I heard Monckton present an interesting point on this recently, namely that we may not be able to perfectly predict the likely effects or causes of global warming/cooling, but we can get a rough gauge on the theoretical maximums by analyzing the difference between the greenhouse effect of our entire atmosphere as a whole, and the surface temp of an un-atmosphered object in space of similar location/composition. Apparently the total difference in temperatures is about 16 degrees centigrade, which makes it unlikely for such a small change in overall composition to create such significant changes in temperature as is predicted.
    I don’t know if the inference is correct, but I thought it interesting sinc I’d never thought about the issue that way before.

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