Monday, October 29, 2007

Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

The inconvenient truth is that Al Gore's movie is way off base. The film has lost enough of its credibility that a British court recently ruled that it cannot be shown in schools without a disclaimer detailing its political bias.

The most damning scientific flaw in Gore's movie is his claim that of a link between global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels. There is a link, but, unfortunately for Gore's believers, it is not as he suggests. In truth, increased carbon dioxide levels come about 800 years after increases in temperature. If the temperature changes first, then how can CO2 be the cause of the temperature change?

In fact, carbon dioxide isn't even the most prevalent greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. Water vapor actually causes from 36-70% of the earth's greenhouse effect.

Gore's claims that the earth is hotter than ever before also do not bear scrutiny. Environmentalists have cited NASA data that showed that 1998 was the warmest year on record, but that was recently revealed to be untrue. Steven McIntyre, of the Climateaudit blog, determined that NASA's algorithm used to determine the hottest year had been corrupted by the Y2K bug. NASA corrected their figures (without a press release of any kind) and 1934 is now officially the hottest year on record. Five of the ten hottest years are now known to be before WWII.

Further giving lie to Gore's claims is the Medieval Warm Period. The Medieval Warm Period occurred from AD 800-1300. In this era, the glaciers shrank enough that the Vikings were able cultivate parts of Greenland. Parts of North America suffered severe droughts. Radiocarbon dating from the Sargasso Sea showed sea temperatures 1 degree celsius warmer than today. Alaska has been through three separate warm periods in the last two thousand years.
Following the Medieval Warm Period, the world entered the Little Ice Age. During the Little Ice Age, the Sargasso Sea was about 1 degree celsius cooler than today. This ice age lasted until the middle of the 19th century when the world entered a warming cycle, which we are still in today.
Gore also ignores the scientific advances of the last fifty years. Certainly there are more cars and factories operating today than in past decades, but today's technology makes them burn more cleanly than the fewer cars of old.

If man made carbon dioxide emissions are not causing the earth's warming, then what is? The answer may be the sun. A 2001 article in Nature describes the relationship between the sun and the ratio of oxygen-18 to the more common oxygen-16 molecule. Over a period of 3000 years, the authors of the study found a direct correlation between the intensity of cosmic rays striking the earth's atmosphere and the earth's temperature ( e.asp?year=2007&month=08). It would seem that the sun is responsible for the cyclical heating and cooling of the earth's climate.

When considering climate change, ask yourself several questions. Based on what we can see locally, the earth is getting warmer, but is it a true global change? Data from casts doubts on data from improperly located automated weather stations. Stations located in urban areas may falsely report higher than actual temperatures.

If so, is the warming caused by man? As stated earlier, carbon dioxide cannot cause temperature change because carbon dioxide levels change 800 years after the temperature.

If so, is it reversible? Even if global warming were caused by man, it is highly unlikely that the whole world would agree to the draconian cuts on CO2 emissions that Gore and the environmentalists want. The US is not the problem. China and other developing countries have lax environmental standards and are set to pass the US in CO2 emissions in the next few years.

Is global warming bad? The earth is constantly changing. Warm periods in our history have typically been prosperous due to longer growing seasons for crops and require less energy for heating homes. Some areas would benefit and some would not. Even the UN report on climate change does not support the more hysterical environmental claims of catastrophe. Even if all of the ice caps melted, for instance, sea levels would rise less than two feet. Rising seas would not flood all low lying areas as Gore and company claim.

Finally, if the environmentalists are so concerned about greenhouse gas emissions, then why don't they support nuclear power? The French have proved that nuclear power can be a safe, clean, cheap source of electricity. Why not promote its use worldwide as an alternative to carbon based sources of energy?

The jury is still out, but the science used by the environmentalists is seriously in question. It is always a good idea care for the environment, but not at the cost of destroying our economy.


RobC said...

Please allow me to make a few points here. First, to answer your question, CO2 is only one of three factors influencing temperature, the other two being solar activity and aerosol pollution. Before 1850, CO2 wasn't changing (except in response to temperature) and therefore wasn't causing temperature change. As you indicate, solar activity seems to have been the dominant factor affecting temperature, going back many thousands of years. Since 1850, CO2 concentration has risen over 30% and now it's the dominant factor. I've put the data on a web page at Global Warming: A Guide for the Perplexed. The importance of water vapor does not mean CO2 isn't important. CO2 accounts for something over 10% of the greenhouse effect; by rising 30%, it accounts for all of the temperature rise. Water vapor hasn't changed much. It could amplify the warming caused by CO2, or possibly modulate it; that subject is presently under investigation.

The temperature records to which you refer are only for the US. It's not encouraging that the 1930s were hotter than now; that was a time of severe drought and economic depression. Meanwhile, global temperatures are clearly on an upward climb.

Mr. Gore's tentative understanding of the facts aside, data from 1000 years ago don't refute the inescapable fact of physics that increasing greenhouse gases increases the global temperature. Actually, the IPCC report didn't say the ice caps would or wouldn't melt. It said that the analysts couldn't prove they would melt so they only estimated a few inches of sea-level rise. If they do melt, which the analysts don't discount, then the ocean levels could rise 20 to 40 feet, depending on how much melting occurs.

Beyond that, there are many other concerns over global warming. For example, pine-boring beetles now are a threat to forests in Western Canada. Snow packs in the mountains are shrinking; this seems to presage some serious water shortages in the near future. Fish stocks are under threat; global warming may be only one of several reasons, but clearly we'd be better off without it. What's more problematical is the effect in drought-susceptible parts of the world. We could see many millions of drought refugees displaced from equatorial Africa; that's got to be a serious political and security issue.

We're not in a position to blame China for global warming. Chinese use a lot less energy than Americans do, and they have higher energy-efficiency standards. Since there are some two billion Chinese and Indians, all working to raise their living standards, we need their cooperation. We'll only get it if we break some bad habits and move strongly toward higher efficiencies and low-carbon energy sources.

I would like it very much if you would differentiate between environmentalists and nuclear opponents. As a devoted hugger of trees, I'm anxious to see a serious and vigorous expansion of nuclear energy. Besides being one of the essential measures for minimizing global warming, nuclear energy will also reduce air pollution and curtail the piling up of coal wastes, which are many times more dangerous than nuclear wastes and which last forever.

And converting away from coal doesn't have to impair the economy. The savings in medical costs and lost-workdays, not even counting the savings in lives, would largely offset any difference in energy cost. My own belief is that nuclear energy will become cheaper as experience is gained with the new, simpler reactor designs; but in the meantime it is safe to say that it won't be much more expensive.

CaptainKudzu said...

Nice website. But plenty of scientists disagree with your conclusions are carbon dioxide. Several state climatologists and authors of the IPCC report are among the dissenters. The jury is still very much out.

""Greenhouse gases" absorb all radiation available to them in a few meters. More of the gas cannot absorb more radiation. A thick sheet of plastic does nothing more than a thin sheet. Doubling the CO2 would only shorten the distance for absorption of radiation from 10 meters to 5 meters, which is not an increase in temperature."

My skepticism of the climate change alarmists is also a factor of the hypocrisy and stifling of dissent by those who are true believers. Suffice it to say that I have parked next to Al Gore's and Richard Branson's private jets. These two guys alone have a huge carbon footprint. The fact that Al Gore cashes in on offsets raises a big red flag.

Many of the political believers have a long history of emotional ranting regardless of the facts. Take Harry Reid's hysterics over the recent California forest fires which he believes were caused by global warming, not the failure to clear dead trees and brush with preventive burns. According to the true believers, global warming causes both more and fewer hurricanes, depending on how many are in the current season.

The 1930s are a pretty good parallel to the present situation. There was drought. For example, the Oklahoma Dustbowl, but it didn't last. What's more, the economic hardships were not a result of the warm temperatures. The temperatures recovered back to "normal" and many believe that they will do so again.

As to China, if you are correct that CO2 emissions are to blame, then countries like China most definitely have to be part of the solution. China has already passed the US in CO2 emissions and the gap is only going to get larger ( Per capita CO2 emissions is meaningless. The total volume is what would matter.

I can agree with you on nuclear energy. In my experience, nuclear opponents and environmentalists are usually one and the same, although there are definitely exceptions.

I also believe that nuclear energy is the way of the future. My reasons for supporting nuclear power are more from a national security view than environmental, but both offer powerful reasons to pursue. I agree that new technology will make it cheaper and safer. The cost could also be reduced if environmental groups would stop fighting nuclear plant licensing and construction.

For me, the bottom line is still this:

1. We can't say for sure that man is causing an appreciable increase in global heating instead of a natural process. "Climate change" is a misnomer because the climate is always changing. To get upset about "climate change" is akin to getting upset about the sun shining.

2. If the climate is changing for the warmer, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. CO2 and warm temperatures are good for crop growth. Maybe global warming could bring an end to world hunger.

3. We can't say for sure that we could stop global warming, even if we all agreed that it was necessary.

I don't mean to come across like someone who doesn't care about the environment. I am a conservationist. In my view that means that I am an evironmentalist who appreciates reason and logic and doesn't hug trees. I believe that switching to nuclear power would be good for the environment by reducing pollution, and I'm all for that.