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Being the random thoughts of a middle aged overeducated physician, father, and citizen. James M. Small MD PhD. Send me a reply to jmsmall @ mycap.org.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
Based on literature research ending 14 March 12, 2008
Compiled between 6/2007 and 3/2008 by
BACKROUND AND INTRODUCTION:
There have been periodic crisis alerts, by well meaning groups of scientists, markedly accentuated by the media often with emotion and distortion, about new dangers to mankind (temperature scares -1895 cooling; 1929 warming; 1975 cooling; presently warming; other recent scares include nuclear holocaust, holes in the ozone layer, acid rain).These have caused anxiety, if not hysteria, legislation, and expenditures of billions of dollars.
Why were these impending crises, possibly threatening our very existence, all of which eventually fizzled, pushed on us so vigorously and emotionally? There have been legitimate concerns by serious people requiring serious evaluation. But the sensational also sells newspapers, movies, etc., is fodder for talk shows, and sometimes makes money for those involved who start new businesses and/or get grants (e.g. Al Gore has joined the venture capitalist firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in
Origin of the problem- Until this past winter there was the general impression, and we were told, that the planet has been warming abnormally and that it is due to our use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas). Despite that this past winter has been one of the coldest and snowiest in many parts of the world in 100 years. That fact isn’t juxtaposed to the previous warming scare, bringing it into question. There was an Academy award winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” by a politician with no scientific credentials (the details of which, the maker, Al Gore has repeatedly refused to debate; and which Justice Michael Burton of the London High Court ruled had so many errors it may be shown in schools only if guidance notes are supplied to teachers so they can balance its alleged, one-sided arguments but for which the Nobel peace prize was awarded anyhow). In addition, there has been a media barrage predicting global doom from warming; the U.S. and Australia have been criticized for refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty of 1997 to decrease greenhouse gases (the critics of these two countries do not relate the repercussions of this treaty such as becoming dependent on European and Asian countries adherence) and there is a U.N. commission (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control, aka IPCC) to study the subject. Heart wrenching pictures are shown of polar bears struggling to stay on ice floes (they didn’t tell us that those pictures were taken in August! when the ice normally looks like that), of Greenland turning green (why it was named Greenland is not discussed) and an avalanche of conflicting, sometimes ethereal, out of context data has been just thrown out for public consumption..
Global climate change has become politicized; I have even been accused of bias against it being a problem in this evaluation of the facts because of my unabashed conservative politics. Does anyone really think I would let my political philosophy prevent me from acknowledging an impending planetary disaster that could harm my children and grandchildren? If you think so, you don’t know me and I advise not wasting your time, so don’t read on. I am concerned about global climate change and its consequences, especially if we are partly the cause; I am equally concerned about the consequences of overreacting to global warming, especially if it is only a natural phenomenon. As a scientist, with training in biological and physical sciences, I have approached this question as I would any research project. I have studied all I could find on climate change, looking at original data and methods (measurements and experimental) and checking the credentials of the authors, I took detailed notes when I viewed “An Inconvenient Truth,” and compiled the following summary of my investigation. My only agenda is to find the truth, or at least verified data. I did not act on subjectivity, belief or feelings, but on objectivity and fact. If we have to change our lifestyle and give the government much more regulatory control over our lives, let us be sure it is the only way to solve this problem. If it is not a problem, let us not overreact and live in fear; we can still be vigilant.
This is not meant to be a trial brief and I’ve tried to keep it as short as possible, so I have only included references where critical. Remember that your “impression or feeling” may not have the same conclusion as systematic evaluation (factual, non-emotional inquiry).
THE PROBLEM IS THE ASSERTION THAT:
· The earth is warming abnormally.
· The warming is due to humans burning of hydrocarbon (fossil) fuel (coal, oil, and gas) which produces greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2).
· The warming is rapid and will have severe deleterious effects on the planet unless we cut back on fuel consumption and find alternative energy sources quickly.
· Damage to the planet- Flooding of costal and island human habitats, loss of natural animal habitats; expanding deserts.
· Fear- People are afraid of the uncertain future and feel guilty that they are, personally, destroying our planet (a nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Denver, told me that she lives in daily fear and guilt that her “carbon footprint” is too big and she is helping to destroy the earth, but she has done all she can to cut down). Among some groups there is more fear of global warming than of Islamic terrorism.
· Economic impact- More expensive energy sources than fossil fuel will adversely affect the standard of living of developed countries and inhibit progress of developing countries.
o If true there may be damages:
§ Rising oceans with flooding and loss of habitat
§ Shrinking ice flows with loss of habitat
§ Loss of plant and animal species.
§ Increased droughts and famine?
§ Violent hurricanes and increased tornados
o If true there may also be benefits:
§ More land for farming, and longer growing seasons.
§ Gain of plant and animal species.
o If false (i.e. if part of normal cycles) there also may be damages to the planet:
§ Economic waste: Unnecessary costs (international expenditures are already estimated at $22.6 trillion).
· Increase taxes (eg. energy “consumption tax”)
· More expensive energy (light bulbs; new power facilities such as wind or solar farms, nuclear plants; fuel for transportation, purchase of carbon offsets (from Albert Gore’s company)
· Subsequent decreased standard of living for developed countries, and inhibited growth of emerging countries.
· In Colorado Xcell energy has already added $20/ton CO2 produced to offset costs of control.
· We signed up for wind energy source for part of our usage and it added $400/month to our bill.
§ Bad business decisions. Example: PepsiCo, deciding to be proactive and “socially conscious,” has put themselves into the position to stop bottling water (Aquafina) because it uses 47 million gallons of oil (9 billion pounds of CO2 produced) to make the plastic. The
· Fear: Unnecessary concern about a bleak, dangerous future, and a feeling of hopelessness and guilt.
· Is global warming good or bad? It depends on which of the above is true. No one really knows what will happen next, but:
o Atmospheric CO2 is respired by plants and is needed for growth, just like we need oxygen. In higher CO2 atmosphere, as well as in warmer climates, plants grow faster and larger.
o More plants mean more food for animals and may result in more species (In fact, plant and animal diversity has increased in the last 50 years as CO2 levels have increased).
o From ice melt at the polar cap there could be a new seaway connection between
o More violent and number of hurricanes and more tornados.
o Fewer polar bears, but more seals and other of their prey (?).
o Need to build sea walls, or loss seafront property.
o Less heating fuel would be needed, would we need more air conditioning?
o Professor Robert O. Mendelssohn, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences thinks the gains would be more than the losses worldwide. Most of the gains will be in
· Plato (400 B.C.) in the Timaeus, Aristotle in Meteorologica, Theophrastus, the Roman, Columnella in 100 A.D., and the Vikings, who settled Greenland in the 13th century all recorded major temperature fluctuations and the effects. Although the inhabited world was small, no disasters were recorded.
· Temperature record:
o Average temperature of earth over the last 3000 years is 23 C +/- 3 (73.4 F +/- 5.4)
o Temperature in 1800 was 71.6 F, in 2000 it was the 3000 year average of 73.4 F. (see below comments on measurement inaccuracies today, older temperatures are done by core sampling).
o No increase in global temperature since 1998, and now seem to be falling.
· Atmospheric and surface temperatures:
o To see how complex it is to measure true temperature, much less predict the future, search the internet for “Global temperatures.” Volcanoes, El Nino, variability by location, time frames measured(long is good, short is bad) as well as many other factors the most important of which are solar activity and greenhouse effect all effect measurements and interpretation.. Climatologists express uncertainty about accuracy and prediction of temperature. The location and reliability of temperature detectors is a major problem.
o Year 1000, medieval climate optimum, 75 F. Greenland was colonized by Vikings.
o Year 1500, Little Ice Age, temperature 71 F,
o Since 1820 there has been gradual warming to present 73.4 F (3000 year average). The rate of change has been steady over the last 180 years with no definite increase in rate even since 1940 when fossil fuel use started to increase.
o Solar activity has correlated exactly with earth temperatures since1880, when first measured, to the present. (Details on how solar activity is measured can be found on www.oism.org.pproject.
o The average temperature of the earth has increased 0.6% (0.13 F) in the last 100 years; atmospheric CO2 has increased in the last 100 years. Most of the warming occurred before 1940, 70% of the CO2 was produced after 1940.
o Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, and Neptune’s moon, Triton have a warming trend similar to ours.
· Rainfall since 1900 has gradually increased 1.8 inches per century; there has been no increase in the number of hurricanes; and since 1950 there has been no increase in violent hurricanes and tornado activity has slightly decreased.
· Sea levels have increased, gradually at a steady rate of 7 inches per century and glaciers have gradually receded since 1850 with no “bump” since 1940 when fossil fuel use increased.
o Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr, in Science March, 2006 showed that Antarctic melt could account for 4 mm (0.013 ft) increase in sea level per ten years (0.13 feet per century). Al Gore predicted a rapid 20 foot increase in sea level, by computer models (discounted even by the IPCC as grossly exaggerated); global warming alarmists incorrectly quote this paper in estimating 1 ft. rise per ten years. The Artic ice cap melt is not included in the figures, but would probably double the rise.
o Professor Robert Gregengack, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at the U. Pennsylvania, and a Gore political supporter, estimates it would take 1700 years for the seas to reach the “Gore level” of 20 feet.
· The polar ice cap has grown back, by February 2008, to near normal size (NASA satellite imagery per Josephina Cosimo, Senior Research Scientist, Cryospheric Sciences Branch, NASA,
o The polar ice packs are thicker (20 cm.) in spots than usual (Gilles Langis, Senior Ice Forecaster, Canadian Ice Service,
o Polar bear population has increase from 15,000 in 1950 to 25,000 in 2007.
· Temperature, short term:
o Anthony Watts, California based research meteorologist (www.wattsupwiththat.wordpress.com:
§ January 2008 2nd coldest in the last 15 years; there has been significant cooling from January 2007 to January 2008 (but can’t look at short term temperatures, only long term, and eg. 30 years).
§ 70% of U.S. Governmental weather stations fail to meet governmental standards and will measure higher than actual temperatures because of the effect of close buildings, exhaust fans, etc. (stations were constructed before the interfering structures).
o World record cold and snow since 1966, China most brutal winter in 100 years; Columbus, Ohio heaviest snow and coldest winter in 98 years. (
o Global cooling has been predicted by the National Research Council and the
· Greenhouse gases: Water, CO2, and methane are the greenhouse gases. The greenhouse effect of atmospheric water accounts for 57 F; CO2 and methane have a minimal effect. Ocean flux has much more effect on the Greenhouse phenomena than CO2 production or humidity, even in experiments where the variables are changed more than is possible in nature.
o Human CO2 production is 8 Gtc (gigatons of carbon)/ year. There is 40,000 Gtc of CO2 in the oceans and biosphere. Equilibrium occurs slowly so that high measurements may lead to misleading conclusions.
o There are massive coal mine fires in
· Al Gore, without data, predicts increased pine beetle activity, increased mosquitoes and disease, and that fish will be in trouble because of bleaching of the coral reefs. There is no mention of the banning of insecticides in high insect vector disease regions which has cost millions of lives, no references or logic to these conclusions.
· Computer models are the methods cited by most global warming alarmists, including Albert Gore.
o Computer models are flawed because they don’t take into account critical variables such as atmospheric water, ocean flux, and sun spot activity, all key elements of climate variability.
o Professor Davis Douglas, U. Rochester, et.al. , in the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society says that computer models to predict weather are incomplete and inaccurate. They do not account for the major greenhouse gas…WATER (humidity, clouds, ocean flux).
· The U.N. International Panel on Climate Change, composed of 2500 climatologists, concluded that there is global warming and it is due to humans burning fossil fuels. This panel has practiced self selection by excluding members who express doubts about global warming (ex. Richard Lindzen, David Henderson, and Ian Castles, all internationally respected in their fields of study who were not invited back).
o A petition has been generated, signed by 19,000 international scientists (allegedly some defectors from the U.N. commission, who said if they hadn’t gone along with the Panel they would have lost research grants) that states that the global warming is natural (it is occurring within the time frame expected from the historical record, and within the temperature range previously recorded), and it is not a crisis. (Petition, signers, and major data summary can be found on www.oism.org.pproject).
o Al Gore says in his movie that there is no disagreement among scientists, and those scientists who believe there is global warming lost their jobs. Both are now known to be untrue statements.
· Global warming fear represents an “all-purpose” excuse to regulate just about everything, and reshape our life styles
o The Sanders/Boxer bill to decrease CO2 (there is no provision in it for a non-C02 producing energy substitute). was estimated by an MIT analysis to have an initial cost of $403 billion to our gross domestic product, a loss of 4.5 million jobs, a loss of $5370 to every family of 4, an additional cost of $95/barrel of oil or = $2/gallon of gasoline, would add $143/ton of coal and a 50% increase in the cost of electricity by 2020. It optimistically assumes developing countries will match our cutbacks. Few of them can afford to worry about future predictions of climate disaster, they are, instead, consumed by survival problems in the present (food, clothing, shelter, employment, etc.), many of which require cheap energy.
o Ethanol mandates mean more wildlife land converted to corn fields, more water, fuel, pesticides and fertilizer, and rising prices of everything because of increased transportation costs.
o Increased wind power means more land marred, more dead birds and bats.
o Nuclear power is intriguing in that initial expenses would be high; long term costs would be low and it would provide centuries of reliable, independent energy (fuel can be reprocessed); experience has shown that it is safe.
o Would cost us 2.5 million jobs; reduce our GDP by $525 billion/year, the equivalent of an increase in taxes of $7,000 for a family of 4.
o If all countries adhere, which is unlikely, it is projected it would decrease warming globally by 0.2 F by 2050.
· All 3 candidates for the presidency of the
· Global and
· The change is within historical observations going back 3,000 years, but the measurements may not be accurate.
· The temperatures have not risen significantly since 1998, and have been falling in the last 6 months.
· Opinions vary and include that the change is due to increased greenhouse gases or that it is due to solar activity. Data supports solar activity as the main cause of climate change.
o This is logical as well as observational because solar activity is the source of energy to heat the planet; greenhouse gases hold the heat in; nature’s regulatory forces are formidable and are mainly due to the most ubiquitous substance, water (vapor and the seas).
· There have been no deleterious effects on the environment that are attributable to global warming (i.e. Loss of wildlife, increased numbers and severity of hurricanes or tornadoes, or flooding, in fact, there has been an increase in animal species, including polar bears and in plant species).
· Greenhouse gases are important in maintaining life on earth by keeping the planet warm. One of the greenhouse gases, CO2 is needed for plant growth. The most abundant and therefore most significant greenhouse gas is water vapor, CO2 and methane are in much lower amounts and therefore, less important.
· Although computer models will probably be needed to predict future temperatures, the models, to date, are oversimplified, as they leave out important variables (ex. water vapor) and are, therefore, misleading. The present, alarming, global warming predictions are based on these models. NASA and others are working on more accurate models that program for all the variables.
· The development of energy sources other than fossil fuels is important for many reasons and should be supported. Temperature change is very slow, significant change is measured in centuries, not decades, so that there is time for careful, thoughtful evaluation of all alternative energy sources (including solar, wind, and nuclear [fear and demagoguery has prevented development of this important source in the U.S. and other countries, but is a major energy source in France and has been safe]).
· The main conclusion of this evaluation is that here is no need for alarm or fear that fossil fuels are imminently going to cause disaster; that there is no need for a radical, rollback in our life style or to force developing countries to stall their economic growth by limiting fossil fuel use; there is no need to give the government more control over our lives by regulating our energy usage; but we can individually, voluntarily, do smart things in our homes and lives to conserve energy (eg. Don’t leave lights on, keep home temperature at lowest comfortable, keep hot water temperature low, don’t drive when you can walk, carpool, don’t waste etc.);
o Energy source research should continue, without alarm, so that the best decisions can be made for the provision of energy for many decades into the future.