Monday, April 23, 2007

The Science Behind Global Warming

Climate change 'science' is currently being led by political bodies, not scientists. Political science is quite simple; the more dire the prediction, the more funding they receive.

Over the past few years, I have been striving to understand the science behind climate change. As promised, I have prepared a post on what I've discovered so far. Brace yourselves, because this is a long post. Even by my standards.

I have found that the most useful data does not come from the UN or the media. In fact, their data is not useful at all. Almost all of their studies assume global warming exists, and the most extreme predictions will come true. Then they calculate the effects on their chosen specialty, such as on nature, the sea level, meteorology, etc. This is why we hear that vast majority of scientific papers predict the devastating effects of global warming. They are not about climate change at all.

This does not, however, mean that global warming does not exist. It does. It just does not do what politicians say it does.

Basic Science

First, a really simple version of the science. Our atmosphere holds in heat. Everyone knows that; it's the reason why the Earth is not as cold as the space around it. The composition of the atmosphere regulates how much of the heat gets trapped.

The reason scientists first looked at carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas is the ice age. By drilling ice in Antarctica, tree cores, sediment cores, they were able to track the average temperature and the levels of carbon in the past. Ice cores especially let them go back hundreds of thousands of years. By tracking the levels of carbon found in the samples and comparing them with the temperature, they theorized that carbon levels lead to increased temperature.

They found that the carbon increases naturally until it reaches a critical mass, then will suddenly be absorbed again and cause an ice age. Then the cycle starts over.

Man's Contribution

Global warming will exist with or without man. However, whenever we burn fuels (or pretty much anything) we are increasing the level of carbon in the atmosphere. Look at the very basic science of fire: Carbon in the fuel reacts with oxygen in the air, and carbon dioxide is released. Or: C + O2 = CO2. Very simple.

What is questioned is how much difference man's contribution makes to natures natural cycle. This cycle existed long before man. Some scientists point out that the average temperature on the Earth has decreased since we started increasing CO2 levels. That's at the very end of the graph.

However, look to the historical correlation of CO2 and temperature. When the CO2 changes drastically, it takes longer for the world's temperature to catch up. This is largely due to the stabilization effect of Earth's oceans. It takes a long time to change their temperature, and they will not allow the Earth's temperature to change rapidly. Seen in that light, the huge increase in CO2 levels is terrifying, because sooner or later the temperature will catch up.

Why Politicians Suck

Politicians love absolutes. They also love money and power. Stephane Dion and Jack Layton have a wonderful weapon. They're telling us that global warming's coming, and unless we elected them now we're all going to die. To make the weapon even more powerful, they are exaggerating the effects of Kyoto to scare us into voting for them.

They know that Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is a wild exaggeration with no scientific fact. (See example at end if you don't believe me). But they will constantly reference it in interviews. Why? It's scary and popular.

John Baird just came out with his dire predictions about following Kyoto. The opposition is challenging the specifics of the statement and using that to refute the obvious facts that meeting the 2008-2012 deadline will devastate us economically.

With politicians leading the climate change debate, no one has to prove anything scientific. You just have to disprove the points made by the opposition. This is easy because even they know they're full of it. Then the electorate gets divided into nice little camps and vote for the person who's telling them what they want to hear.


1) Global warming is happening no matter what we do. However, we are probably speeding it up. How much is difficult to say, since everyone seems to disagree.

2) You cannot trust most of the climate change time lines because they use the exaggerated forecasts created by political bodies. On that note, we should make a concentrated effort to reduce emissions, but not at the expense of our economy. If we destroy our economy, we can't pay for those reduction plans.

3) The greatest threat posed by global warming is an earlier ice age.

4) Global warming is being blamed for everything. For example, the unusually warm December/January in Ontario was caused by a southern updraft, not global warming. If you don't believe me, note that February was the coldest in 28 years. Or as someone from Alberta or Saskatchewan - their entire winter was especially chilly. Ocean temperature will not allow the drastic temperature changes the politicians predict.

5) If man were to reduce our CO2 emissions to zero today, we would still feel the effects of the CO2 already in the atmosphere. They may reduce to their proper levels over several centuries, or they might hold where they are until the temperature catches up.

This is the result of my research so far. Over the past few years, I have gone from climate change denier to apocalyptic doomsayer and back again. There is an abundance of inaccurate information available on this issue. I learning a lot more when I ditched online research and opened an ancient relic called a textbook.

However, if you must gain some more information online, this website isn't bad.

Al Gore's bad science example:
Scientists are debating a rise in the ocean levels of between 3 inches and 3 feet over the next 300 years (I remember that one because of all the threes). Al Gore avoided that pesky science. His movie shows what will happen if the ice caps melt completely. The oceans will rise 20 feet! Then he has a wonderful computer graphic showing the effects, ignoring that fact that the next ice age will hit long before that happens. His movie is full of scare tactics like that. And he's made money, gained power, and grown popular. Everything a politician needs.

I forgot to include something. Trees turn CO2 back to oxygen. We also don't know how much of the CO2 increase is caused by deforestation.

Want to help global warming? Plant a tree.


Joanne (True Blue) said...

Great analysis, Luke! Maybe you should send a link to David Suzuki and see what his reaction is. ;)

Well done.

Luke said...

Suzuki's a political activist, not a scientist. I'm sure he'll agree with everything that says we should give environmentalists more money.

I really want to send this to someone reputable and get some feedback.

Anonymous said...

I'm confoosed, does CO2 lead or follow temperature? I just don't know what to believe anymore. So can everyone just go back to talking about Health Care.PLEASE

liberal supporter said...

That was a good post. I don't know why Joanne suggests you send it to David Suzuki, though. You are reporting the current state of the science, except for the IPCC's finding that humans are likely contributing about half the observed warming.

Aside from your theories on the motivations of various people involved, your view is similar to that of the IPCC.

Ben said...

Luke, your post is very readable. I agree that global warming hysteria is most appealing to politicians that favour big government. This, not science, seems to be the motivating factor for the hysteria.

Admittedly, I have gotten most of my information on GW online in piecemeal fashion, starting with a good dose of "The Great Global Warming Swindle." Which leads me to reiterate what "confoosed" mentioned. In the "Swindle" video, they say that the ice core data actually shows that increases in temperature lead to increases in CO2 (not the other way around). Does your research contradict this assertion?

Secondly, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, while clearly rising, are less than 1/10 of 1%, far less than other greenhouse gases like H2O. How much does CO2 actually contribute to the greenhouse effect?

Finally, the strong correlation between global temperature and sunspot activity is very convincing, leading one to believe that CO2 concentration has very little effect on global warming. What are your thoughts?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

They're telling us that global warming's coming, and unless we elected them now we're all going to die.

That was a great line. Dion especially is trying to convince us of that one. Never mind that he didn't do anything other than talk before...

Luke said...


First of all, thanks for your compliment. "Very readable" is actually what I was going for, since I started this blog mostly as an outlet to organize my thoughts.

You're right; there are theories that temperature increases CO2 concentrations, and not the other way around. There is no absolutely conclusive data either way, since this is the first time in history that we've been able to track it closely. All the 'evidence' I've heard either way is supposition based on data that's just no accurate enough to be conclusive.

That being said, there may be studies and experiments I am not aware of.

As for sunspot activity, it is almost certainly another factor that affects global temperature. However, it does not overrule the parallel between CO2 concentrations and global temperature. There is rarely only one reason for anything, including global temperature.

I hope that helps. I'm going to keep researching the matter and see what I find.

Ben said...

Luke, thanks for the response, I'll look forward to more posts. I still think you should look more closely at the sunspot activity angle, as it appears to track so neatly with global temperature, far closer than CO2 concentration. It may not be the only factor, but my point is that CO2 may be a red herring as far as global warming is concerned.

Assuming man-made CO2 emissions are a problem, my pet solution would be carbon sequestration, in which the CO2 from combustion is pumped back in the ground from whence it came. However, I'm not sure burying all that good plant food is the right thing, either :-).

Luke said...

Thanks Ben, I'll look into that.

New research has swung my opinion on this issue many times. If anyone else has an angle or issue I've overlooked, let me know.

On that note, if I've written something you think is wrong, let me know that as well.

Luke said...

Ben, if you're still checking this, I have more info on sunspots.

Sunspots definitely assist in the variation of the overall global temperature, but they have been dismissed as a cause of long term climate change.

Look again at the graph - the temperature goes in cycles, slowly rising until it suddenly plummets into an ice age. Sun spots aren't that consistant - they will contribute to the ups and downs, but not the long term cycle.

As for CO2 leading for following temperature, I still can't find conclusive data. It seems that the theory is based on the parallel between CO2 and global temperature - nothing else follows global temperature like greenhouse gases. But is that CO2 causing the change in temperature, or does a higher temperature cause CO2 to be released from oceans and glaciers?

Keep the questions coming - you guys are leading me down paths I hadn't thought of before.