« FQ.07.12: Favorite Quote for This Week | Main | A pleasant surprise: Rudy the growth advocate »


Thanks for a (unsurprisingly) reasonable approach to this issue, Steve.

The Goracle and His sycophants scare me almost as much as radical Muslims. Both are scary, but the radical GW fanatics are much more likely to have a direct effect on my life.

I've been a science junkie since I was knee high to a grasshopper, and I recall talking about this new theory of global warming back in the mid-1980s.

I find all this talk of the "science is settled" to be hugely disturbing. The whole concept is bizarre -- science by definition doesn't settle. Scientists don't talk like that: they argue with each other instead. I've never heard any other school of scientific thought being called "settled" -- not relativity, not evolution, not quantum mechanics.

I've certainly never heard political columnists compelled to compare Big Bang-deniers (of which there are many) to "holocaust deniers", or heard calls to criminalize the denial of plate tectonics. I'm becoming more and more of a skeptic just to piss people off.

The problem is that efficient air-conditioning and constructing dykes, as well as any other poverty reducing, industrial development will emit large amounts of CO2 in the process.

If the warming enthusiasts have their way, the 3rd world will simply have to deal with the misery they encounter now, although they wouldn't have to worry about an extra day or two of summer ever year (that is, if the CO2 is to blame for said warming).

Great that you have maintained your skeptical and optimistic views towards the greenhouse theory too. I can only wish that you remain consistent in your attitude and give the same treatment to any alternative theories, to me that 1,500-year cycle talk sounds a lot like hand waving and a desperate attempt to milk the scary-issue-of-the-day.

Personally I see that the positives attached to CO2 emissions are worth any trouble that might come from the warming climate. None of the solutions proposed around here (Eurolandia) make too much sense, but less pollution is always a good thing and most production is moving to China anyways so regulation probably won't cause too much damage.

The climate warming phenomenon is really interesting in so many ways, from the psychological guilt and pay -social issue, the science, politics and so on. Definitely worth studying.

The only people who are guaranteed to be untrustworthy in this debate are those who claim the debate is over and that the science is resolved.

"...the solution is centrally planned..."

Leaving the "cause" issue aside, do you really think of carbon trading as centrally planned?

Hypothetically, if we all agreed that carbon emissions were a significant problem, then we could agree that only a certain amount of carbon emissions could be allowed. If we agreed on that, then wouldn't a cap and trade system be ideal? Wouldn't a market based allocation of emission opportunities be the least "centrally planned" solution?


"The only people who are guaranteed to be untrustworthy in this debate are those who claim the debate is over and that the science is resolved."

Oh, way to totally miss the point. The point is this: no scientific issue is every resolved, as science is always progressing. The lesson: It is irrational to ask that the science be resolved (as in that statement) and the debate be over before you act.

It's irrelevant and meaningless to pick on people who are using 'resolved' to mean 'resolved to sufficiently high certainty to act', and it's fallacious to play semantical switcheroo with definitions of proof.

http://realclimate.org/ is -the place- to go for scientific discussion of global warming issues (much like http://www.pandasthumb.org/ for evolution).

As a science-minded individual, I find the above resource invaluable.

Googling for Fred Singer turned up:
Most dizzying turn-around of a climate skeptic:
Fred Singer "global warming is not happening" (1998,2000, 2002, 2005) to global warming is "unstoppable" (2006)

It's fine to be a skeptic, but I prefer to put more credence in the positions of those who have been proven right more often than wrong.

Both are scary, but the radical GW fanatics are much more likely to have a direct effect on my life.

Posted by: Splashman

People who think the results of peer reviewed science are scary....scare me. I'm guessing radical Muslims are more likely not to be concerned with Global warming either because they don't believe in science and put all their trust in their God.

We live in a technologically driven and dependent society. If nothing else the global warming issues tells me we need to teach more science.

Previewing your Comment
CO2 comprises an average of about 0.28% of our atmosphere, and has increased by a factor of of 0.3 over the past 200 years of industrialization.

Meanwhile, water vapour fluctuates between 0 and 4% of the total atmosphere and varies widely from region to region. In addition, water vapor can absorb more than 3000 times the solar radiation and convert it to heat per volume of CO2. Also, water vapor that crystalizes in the upper atmosphere to form clouds can reflect radiation.

The haphazzard nature of the accumulated greenhouse effect of H2O, which even over dry regions, completely dwarfs the CO2 effect, leads me to believe that something other than atmospheric gasses is the major contributor to the current warming trend.

Darn. My original post didn't go through. Definitely I'm better at science then economics.

I know the peer reviewed science on this issue. With out reading Singers book I'm guessing his 1,500 year cycles refer to a paper by Keeling" intitle: "The 1,800-year oceanic tidal cycle: A possible cause of Climate Change..."

It's not a good explanation for long term change because it adds no net influence to the forcing of climate.

Further, the best evidence that something is happening on a scale not seen in more then 5,000 years (much less 1,500 years) is visible to the naked eye.

There are multiple sites around the world that suggest the current warming is greater then anything in the past 5,000 years and that it may have already or will soon surpass the warmest climate human civilization has ever seen. Maybe the warmest climate the 100,000 year old species Homo sapien sapien has ever seen.

There is just no significant evidence for a natural forcing to explain the current warming. The most likely suspect, the Sun, has not significantly changed its output in 50 years and the warming is ongoing.

These sites I speak of include multiple areas worldwide where glaciers have melted back revealing 5,000 year old plant material ( tree trunks, moss and forbs). Very suggestive that the current warming is unprecedented in 5,000 years.

Also the near loss of Mt Kilimanjaro's 7,000 year old ice cap and the multiple collapses of ice sheets know to be 3,000 or more years old is suggestive.

Arguing that increased CO2 won't warm the planet is like arguing gravity won't work tomorrow. The basic laws of physics on the issue are pretty straight forward.

Make fun of the Goracle if you wish. But he wrote a book on the issue in 1994 and since then the 10 warmest recorded years on Earth have occurred. That's not being precient (?sp)...that's being scientific.

to FhnuZoag:
Your ideas are welcome, but your profanity is not. Please consult a thesaurus for more acceptable nouns and adjectives. In the meantime, I will continue deleting offensive comments.

And before you comment again, please read this:

Review at realclimate (or at least a review of an Avery talk on the book): http://tinyurl.com/ypxlpx

muirgeo, these kinds of arguments just amaze me: "These sites I speak of include multiple areas worldwide where glaciers have melted back revealing 5,000 year old plant material ( tree trunks, moss and forbs). Very suggestive that the current warming is unprecedented in 5,000 years."

All they show me is that the cycles exceed 5,000 years, and the longer the cycles the less impact of man.

Unprecedented in 10K or 20K or even 1,000K? Now what?

I have deliberately stayed away from studying the global warming issue because of how it has been so politicized in the past ten years, so I am no expert and have no scientific basis for arriving at any conclusions one way or the other. Having said that, I have about 48 years of memory and have lived continuously within 10 miles of where I was born and raised in northeast United States.

During my lifetime, I have seen no anecdotal evidence of anything resembling a change in the climate patterns in my area. We have had cold winters, warm winters, snowy winters, and dry winters. We have had both wet and dry summers, and some summers that have been somewhat cool, and some where the hottest temperatures in the summer have touched 100 degrees. In college in the early 1970's, I did an undergraduate report that was based on a Scientific American article that said we were on the verge of a 10,000 year global cooling cycle. This article was followed up by a popular Reader's Digest article in 1974, I believe, with the same result. I have vacationed every summer on the same stretch of Rhode Island seashore since 1966, which has not changed one bit, although there were times when the water eroded the sand, and the shoreline was then built back up over the next few years.

I have yet to see palm trees growing in my area. As a counterpoint, there are now moose, bear, and coyote here, none of which I ever saw when I was a kid. Due to global warming, or cooling, or perhaps, a cleaner environment?

I am most skeptical when the baseline argument for or against global warming results in the redistribution of billions of dollars (Kyoto), or the heavy taxation that will be imposed to regulate and administer solutions. Politicians have a knack for completely distorting the facts, when it means an extra billion or two dollars for their districts.

I have spent my entire adult life evaluating and checking on so-called facts in my line of business (which has nothing to do with meteorology, by the way). When justifying my positions to business owners, I must have my facts straight, or they will shoot me full of holes. I find it surprising how the global warming debaters, both for and against, are so loose with facts. The issues behind such facts, especially in the global warming debate, are incredibly complex, and I do not have the time in my own life, to do the requisite research to get to the bottom of the arguments.

Until then, I trust my anecdotal observations and have yet to see anything that resembles warming or cooling.


I ran across this summary of G.W. today and think you might enjoy it.
http://www.ornery.org/essays/warwatch/2007-03-04-1.html All in a Good Cause

By all means, read Fred Singer's book (new ideas are always interesting), but I must admit I doubt its veracity. Cycle concepts I've encountered plenty of, but 1,500 year cycles seem pretty silly. Why not at least pick something consistent with the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age?

The missing question is whether warming is bad for us. The parade of horribles suggested by Gore et. al. is not very impressive.

Polar bears? Oh come on. They are bears, they can and will eat anything.

Bangladesh? It would be cheaper to build dikes than to de-industrialize the rest of the world.

Malaria? It is not really a tropical disease. It was present in temperate climes until we learned how to drain swamps (what they now call ecologically sensitive wet-lands).

As Bjorn Lomborg pointed out to Congress, which ignored him because he is not a movie star, cold is far more dangerous than hot.

We can adapt to warm weather and so can the natural world, it will be cheaper and more responsive to put air-conditioners and screens in European apartments than it will be to shut down industrial civilization.

Check out Prof Lomborg's web site before you panic:


Part of the problem, as I see it, is the arrogance of man. Ariah, don't mean to pick on you but am only using your comment as an example. Ariah said: "Why not at least pick something consistent with the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age?"

Why pick man attested cycles when we have ample evidence of 40-50K ice age cycles.

No human influence and still the planet warmed. Several times.

All they show me is that the cycles exceed 5,000 years, and the longer the cycles the less impact of man.

Posted by: Counter Revolutionary

The evidence I presented says nothing about cycles. You've simply assumed it must be a cycle with no basis for your assumption. The evidence does suggest it is warmer now then it has been for over 5,000 years which makes it anomalous for human civilization. This evidence is also consistent with the theory of anthropogenic warming.

Your position is as if you have a line up of suspects to a crime. One witness identifies one suspect as being seen around the crime seen. The other suspects all have good alibis. Then you conclude there must be some other suspect aka "cycle" even thought you have no evidence or other witnesses making such a claim.

The question is what is it about the current suspect that you don't want to prosecute? Maybe some convoluted connection between the suspect and some ones faulty economic ideology? I donno just speculating.

The missing question is whether warming is bad for us. The parade of horribles suggested by Gore et. al. is not very impressive.


I look at it from the other end. The missing question is whether fixing the problem is bad for us. The parade of horribles suggested by the old school economist is not very impressive.

For about what we spend in Iraq in 2-3 months we could likely fund a massive program for alternative energy.

Likely outcomes:

High capacity storage energy devices that will charge in minutes and run a car hundreds of miles.

Similar units for the home.


1) Huge technology boom just like the government created when it brought forth the atomic bomb, the Apollo project,computers and the internet.

2) Massive secondary economic expansion resulting in the new technology.

3) Non centralized power sources freeing people to make their own energy independent of multinational corporations and Muslim countries harboring resentful terrorist.

4) Cleaner air

5) Minimized impacts from climate change

6) Independence of Middle Eastern Oil.

7) ANWR untouched for thousands more years

8) Prosperity to third world countries now able to generate electricity efficiently.

Not responding risks our future and keeps us subservient to multinational corporations and Middle Eastern energy sources.

I look these economic nay sayers and I think man what ever happen to Americans holding themselves to a higher standard? What ever happen to the "Can-Do-Attitude" of the Americans? Since when were Americans so comfortable being so dependent on others?

The idea that the solutions to global warming will kill our economy are far more suspect then the said consensus of the IPCC...IMO.

I have suggested a response that has merit regardless of the global warming issue. Many seem to pooh-pooh such ideas out of hand. To which I ask why the defeatist attitude? Did the Manhattan Project fail? Did the Apollo Project fail?

Is a technology boom that leads to energy independence and more individual freedom from multinational corporations and Middle East Oil not a noble goal in and of itself?

This is something that will HAVE to happen as the Earths oil supply is not endless and certainly no amount of drilling up our beautiful country would ever return us to oil independence.

The biggest reason not to fund a Manhattan like energy project is if you are an Oil company sitting on trillions of dollars of profit to be made with out lifting a finger. Do you think the oil companies really don't care if high efficiency capacitor driven cars are successfully created? Do you think the coal lobby likes these ideas?

Many fear people like me wanting to supposedly set up an all controlling government. I want nothing of the sort and I'd suggest the kind of control many fear already exist in the names of companies like Exxon Mobile and Haliburton ect...

So again why the defeatist attitude? Why the complacency of our dependency on Exxon and Arabs?

"Oh, way to totally miss the point. The point is this: no scientific issue is every resolved, as science is always progressing. The lesson: It is irrational to ask that the science be resolved (as in that statement) and the debate be over before you act."

You misunderstand. As you say, science is always progressing. There will never be a consensus and the debate will never be over. Therefore, the only people who are not trustworthy in this debate are those who claim otherwise.

As far as acting on the whims of the latest scientific catch-phrase, I'm not sure what you are expecting people to do. Especially when those who cry the loudest seem to be unwilling to sacrifice their own lifestyles for the cause.

I have no credentials in science whatsoever. However, I have studied manias and this is a big one. I won't debate whether is is good or bad to spew burnt fossil fuel into the air. I'll concede that if we had our druthers we wouldn't do it.

But, I digress. My main peeve with this whole thing is the prevailing behavior. Challenge any assumption and one gets hammered by the Goreites and the other PC nuts. This is PC mania at its' best.

Al wants to ban incandescent bulbs. Al never had to pay his way for anything. Why can't these former politcos just go away and swing on a porch or something?

muirgeo said -

I look at it from the other end. The missing question is whether fixing the problem is bad for us.

I respond -

With respect, you're skipping at least one very important step - that is, you first need to determine there is a problem that needs "fixing".

Then you need to determine that the "fix" isn't worse than the original problem, but that's a whole other matter entirely.

muirgeo said -

For about what we spend in Iraq in 2-3 months we could likely fund a massive program for alternative energy.

Likely outcomes:

High capacity storage energy devices that will charge in minutes and run a car hundreds of miles.

Similar units for the home.

I respond -

Sorry, but the most likely outcome - especially if you're talking about massive GOVERNMENT (tax-financed, congressionally set-up) investment as opposed to private-sector investment - is that we will have poured billions of dollars into technologies that will never, ever come close to doing what you suggest they will do - though it will feed a great many academic researchers and (to a much lesser degree) their armies of graduate students.

muirgeo said -

Is a technology boom that leads to energy independence and more individual freedom from multinational corporations and Middle East Oil not a noble goal in and of itself?

I respond -

Ah, the fear of "multinational corporations" - as if I'm supposed to embrace without question "multinational socialism" as embodied by the UN. No thanks.

Besides, what makes you think the multinationals won't get in on the "clean energy" business if they determine they can make a buck off of it? My fantasy is that Haliburton is the first to come up with said technology - I can then sit-back and watch peoples' heads explode.

And sure, there are plenty of perfectly sound reasons why pouring tons of gunk into the atmosphere (or waters, etc.) isn't a great idea. I'm totally on-board with that. And we should, to the extent it's practical, work toward cleaner energy generation technologies (nuclear comes to mind almost immediately, but I don't see many proposals for new nuke plants coming from the lips of Al Gore or his ilk).

That said the willingness, heck the demand of the AGW-phobics that we MUST bypass anything that remotely resembles a cost-benefit analysis of global warming "solutions" (such as Kyoto), or that any cost-benefit analysis that IS done doesn't seem to take into account the cost of keeping the third-world (over-)populated with poor, uneducated people who lead short, miserable lives is, to put it mildly, suspicious.

Almost forgot to thank you for that link; it was a good read. I hadn't heard about the data fudging (non-)scandal.

By the way, it looks like I underestimated the market penetration achieved to date: it's 83%, not just a majority.

Wow Jon...what a pessimist you are.

I'm glad you weren't around to turn down the Corps of Discovery or the government funding that built railroads across this country and those that electrified it as well.

I'm glad your weren't in charge to say NO to the Manhattan Project or to Kennedy's Apollo project or to the idea of the internet.

But I am sad that you put Capitalism above Democracy and that you think an industry that sits on billions and billions of future profit would some how be interested in developing alternatives that would cut their profits and make you and me less dependent on them.

I've seen your arguments many times before Jon. They to me grate against everything it means to be an American....you have a no can do attitude, you're complacent in your dependency and you are willing to throw away a government of, by and for the people because the highest bidders have played on your fears and good nature. I know you are a good American. I'm just not sure you've thought this through.

I'll see your "wow" and raise you an "aw shucks", muirgeo.

In part...

"...what a pessimist you are"

Pessimist. Realist. Whatever.

"I'm glad you weren't around..."

So how's that war on poverty going?

We could do this all day - boring.

"But I am sad that you put Capitalism above Democracy"

Well, it's a good thing we don't have one of those - democracies, that is. (We live in a Repubic, look it up if you don't trust me.) But yes, I am largely on board with capitalism and make no apopogies for that.

"that you think an industry that sits on billions and billions of future..."

Blah blah blah. Capitalism, bad. Companies, bad. Profit, bad. UN, good.

'In government we trust.' How original.

"I've seen your arguments many times before Jon."

Well, yours ain't particularly new either. Just saying.

"They to me grate against everything it means to be an American"


"you have a no can do attitude"

People who know me and work with me would be very surprised by that statement - but hey, I suppose you know me better from one comment here than, say, my wife of nearly 20-years. Who knew?

"you're complacent in your dependency"

And mindreading ain't your bag, either.

"you are willing to throw away a government of, by and for the people"

And I've said this where?

"because the highest bidders have played on your fears and good nature"

The only people I see playing on anyone's fears are those who are saying we're all gonna die in the next 50-years unless we stop driving gas-powered autos. YMMV.

"I know you are a good American."

Thanks for that, I was concerned.

"I'm just not sure you've thought this through."

Well, who knows. I've only been thinking about this since we were talking about "global cooling" in high school, and I only do computer modeling of highly nonlinear coupled pheonomena on massive parallel processing platforms for a living (and therefore know a little bit about said modeling - including it's limitations) - but then again, perhaps I've "not thought this through."

Or, maybe I'm just not buying the talking points. Your call - I really don't care either way.

Here's the long and short, muirgeo:

Your entire response is, for all intents and purposes, a personal indictment. I am a pessimist. I "have no can-do attitude". I "chose capitalism over democracy". I "have not thought this through". I am "complacent in (my) dependency". I am "willing to throw away a government of, by and for the people". I am having my fears played on. (That most of these are completely unsupported by what I've written is an entirely different matter, but why attempt to confuse the issue with minor details like that.)

In other words, I'm just too stupid, lazy, and callous to figure it out. And if I weren't stupid, lazy and callous - if I just "thought this through", as you put it - I would of course be joining you as The Goracle marches-us toward a brighter tomorrow.

It is, in so many words, boringly typical of the response I've come to expect from a member in good standing of the Church of Climatology - precisely the sort or response I've been hearing for over a decade.

In short - don't answer any challenge, just beat-up the challenger.

Spectacularly unsurprising.

So, and because I don't expect to get anything other than more of the same going forward, I'll close with this:

Vade in pace. Vaya con Algore.

Au contraire, Jon. I've got only kudos and a big high-five for you.

(BTW, I hadn't heard "Church of Climatology" before, so thanks. The Goracle is the high priest, eh?)

It's also fun to point out that some of the 'facts' used by members of the Church of Climatology aren't. For instance, despite a poster above, it's pretty well established that the Mt Kilimanjaro situation is a result of deforestation not global warming. And Antarctica is getting colder not warmer. And ice is increasing in Antarctica, not decreasing. Etc, etc.

CO2 absorbs heat radiation, the radiation in the 13 to 17 micrometer range. This is a simple statement of fact, just as we could state that water absorbs certain wavelengths of light (giving it a blue color). There is no getting around the fact that CO2 absorbs heat. That is its nature. One fun demonstration I saw went like this: A large steel cylinder full of air has a window in each end. Outside one end is an infrared scope, outside the other is a candle. In the dark, you can look through the cylinder with the scope and see the candle. The heat from the candle shows up in the infrared scope. Then the air is pumped out and the cylinder is filled with CO2 instead. As it fills, the candle slowly fades from view! The CO2 is absorbing the radiation from the candle, keeping it from making it to the other side. A clear and simple demonstration of a clear and simple fact, and Al Gore's residential utility bills had nothing to do with its validity.

So, CO2 absorbs heat radiation. That's a very old, well-established, noncontroversial, undisputed fact of life -even if it's apparently beyond Oklahoma Senator Imhofe's grasp. When something absorbs heat, we say it is "warmed" (meaning its molecular activity has speeded up).
So the more CO2, the more heat is absorbed, the more warming. Look at the Keeling curve of recorded CO2 levels through time, then compare the curve of global temperatures. Like any measurements plotted through time, there may be bumps & wiggles in these lines, and peaks & valleys, etc, but that's what drawing lines through data points is all about.

What conclusion do the climate change deniers like Imhofe want us to come to, by claiming that temperature increases precede CO2 rises? That a revolutionary overturning of atmospheric physics is at hand? That CO2 does not absorb heat? Might as well press for Flood Geology and Noah's Ark (and as we all know, there are scientists with degrees who do press for Flood Geology).
I suppose the defenders of burning fossil fuels do indeed want to convince the gullible that there's no correlation between CO2 and heat absorption and warming. The first thing they'll have to do is repeal the laws of physics and change the nature of CO2. I'd rather they not waste our time and insult our intelligence with crap like Imhofe's about the "greatest hoax ever pulled," and I fervently wish they'd just go away (nothing at stake but survival), but I'm afraid: Just like the creationists, the anti-environmentalists will be here yammering away and badgering us right up to the very End --which they are working so hard to bring about. Sigh.

Great argument Jim. These guys really think the laws of physics will succumb to the "invisible hand of the market".

To add to your post, a doubling of "effective CO2" can be calculated to warm the planet ~ 1-1.2C.

Now what's the skeptics other big point? That water is a stronger greenhouse gas then CO2. True! So when the Earth and ocean are warmed by the CO2 what happens to pools of water? They warm too and evaporate. Thus the amount of water vapor increases and it warms the Earth further. A positive feedback.

Finally what does bright shiny ice do to incoming solar radiation? It reflects it back to space. What happens when Earth warms from CO2 and H2O feedbacks? Ice melts. Then what? That solar energy that was being reflected back into space is absorbed by the surface warming the Earth even more. So all these positive feedbacks will add to the increase warming by greenhouse gases.

But most skeptics of global warming also happen to be true believers in free-markets. The free market will automatically correct for any eventuality. So it should nullify the laws of physics and permit greenhouse gases not to absorb infrared radiation until a balance is achieved.

So the question is what's your ideology based on? The Laws of Physics or the Laws of the Market? How one answers that question ultimately decides what you believe about global warming.

I invested 75 minutes of my time in this video, and it was worth it:

Looks like there's a lot more to the science of climate change than CO2. The video says the sun is the number one factor, by far. (I didn't see anything in it about the free market, though.)

Now I need to re-listen to Al Gore's video. Is it on YouTube yet?

Still working on the book.

For the nonscientists, some basic facts:
a) CO2 traps heat radiation, like a blanket.
b) We add billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere annually.
c) Temperatures are rising.

In more detail:
The science of global warming is not terribly hard to understand. On a summer night, walk by a brick wall that’s been heated by the sun during the day, and you can feel the heat. But you can't see it (at least not without an IR scope). When objects absorb solar radiation they re-radiate it back out as thermal radiation at longer wavelengths --this is the heat you feel at the brick wall. To simplify: The atmosphere is transparent to the incoming sunshine, but not to the infrared, so it comes in but can’t get back out. The carbon dioxide in our air absorbs that re-radiated heat, and the atmosphere warms up. The more carbon dioxide, the more warming. That's the way it works. I put an extra blanket on my bed in the winter for the same reason; thicker blanket, more heat trapped.

If it weren't for the carbon dioxide, the planet would average -6 C., below freezing. This is pretty basic science, old news. How old? Fourier coined the "greenhouse" analogy in 1827, and in 1896 Arrhenius was the first to do extensive calculations of the warming that would result from increases in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It's been solidly established science for 180 years.

Satellites passing over the Earth can look down and "see" the radiation escaping from the planet, and also "see" the gaps where heat has been absorbed and is not making it back into space. There's a nice graph of this in Houghton's book. You can see the small bite taken out of the reflective heat energy spectrum at the seven micrometer wavelength (water vapor), another spike at 10 micrometers (methane), and then the big hole from 13 to 17 micrometers, where CO2 has blocked heat from escaping. This is utterly basic physics, totally beyond dispute.

So, the three major greenhouse gases (GHGs)absorb heat radiation. And the more greenhouse gases, the more greenhouse effect. The CO2 level stood at 280 ppm (parts per million) prior to the Industrial Revolution and is now 380 ppm, a 30% increase, and rising steeply. By burning fossil fuels and firewood, mankind was adding one billion tons of carbon per year to the atmosphere by the end of WW2. One billion. By the mid-1990s it had escalated to 5.5 billion tons, and we have now passed the seven billion mark, adding more than 7 billion tons of carbon per year to the atmosphere, of which "ocean uptake" disposes of 2 billion and forests 0.5, leaving about 4.5 billion tons per year "net storage in the atmosphere." The United States alone emits 2 billion tons, while the land area of the U.S. absorbs only about one tenth of that. Twenty percent of the greenhouse warming comes from methane, smaller in quantities than CO2 but pound for pound a much more effective greenhouse gas. 85 million tons of methane are added yearly from "enteric fermentation" --gas from you and me and our cows. Rice paddies add another 60 million tons, fossil fuels 100 million. Total methane production is up 150% in this century.

The predictable and unavoidable result of all that added CO2 and methane is global warming. How much warming is difficult to measure with precision --as I've said before, you can’t just stick a thermometer in Gaia’s ozone hole. But 1995 was the hottest individual year since records began in the 1860s, until the 2000s, and especially 2006, which set new records. And the records are starting to topple at an increasing rate. The 1998 wave of extreme weather inflicted at least $90 Billion in damages. Ask the insurance companies about climate change.

Solar forcing is about 0.4, while CO2 forcing is 1.4 and other GHGs are 1.2, so solar is less than a sixth of forcing attributable to GHGs. According to National Science Foundation research on climate history reported in the journal Nature, this warming is unprecedented in recent history, even after allowing for factors such as changes in solar radiation, the strong El Nino of 1791, and the cooling effects of the Tamborra Volcano in 1816. El Ninos are now occurring twice as often -- about every three years instead of about every seven. Long term studies over the past half century (one from 1949, one from 1951) show nighttime highs going up twice as fast as daytime highs, and show increases in heavy cloud covers at night, which hold heat in. And so forth. The review of 928 previous studies (Science, 306) that found no dissent might mean they're right: Sometimes consensus among experts actually means they understand their subject. Sum:

a) CO2 absorbs heat, is the blanket that keeps the planet warm.

b) We're adding billions of tons to the blanket.

c) Record temperatures are occurring.

Contrarianism: Misplaced skepticism, rejecting the consensus of science to demonstrate one's independence. OK for some things, but foolish when it leads to skepticism about evolution, the Holocaust or atmospheric physics.

Translation: "Trust us. Ignore everything else."

Gawd. The Church of Climatology, indeed.

Isn't it also true that water vapor and methane are far more effective at "trapping heat like a blanket" than CO2?

I wandered into this website for the national debt pie chart, and paused to share a little basic atmosperic physics, with no intention of staying. Those who are interested will go beyond propaganda on YouTube and will read some real science. (Flashman: sign up for a course on physics at your local community college, buddy.) Others might want to re-read more carefully what I wrote. (Steve: I did point out methane is pound for pound more powerful than CO2, but it's measured in millions of tons, not billions like CO2.) Y'all can carry on without me. Adios.

Thanks for visiting, Jim. I'm still digging into the science, but, just as in economics, I'm seeing that it's very easy for politics to get in the way, on both sides.

Regarding the Youtube movie. Basically they are being dishonest about the Suns recent influence on climate. The fact is solar irradiance has not increased in 40-50 years and the temperature is soaring.

Here's the graph they use in the movie;


Notice the red line for solar output stops at 1980. Wonder why?

Here's what they left out. Solar output has not had any significant net change since 1980 likely since 1950.


Bottom line is there is no significant evidence that solar forcing explains the last 50 years of warming.

The contrary evidence is so great that when some one tells you to think about the Sun you can pretty much be assured that they are BS'ing you.


Do you guys remember the ozone hole and the governmental steps taken to minimize and eliminate the CFCs that were causing it?

Do you guys remember love canal and the hundreds of families that lost their homes because of the toxic pollution there?

Do you guys remember the fire in the Cuyahoga River?

Human actions have affected the environment before. What is surprising about them affecting our climate today?

I was taught not to poop in one's own backyard. It's a simple principle. But it seems that it is more important to gather short term profit and continue to externalize those costs on to the rest of us

muirgeo: Thanks for the links. Why the difference in the solar activity units of measure (Y-axis)? I'm having trouble comparing them because of that.

The comments to this entry are closed.