Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Global Warming…Comment and Reply.

with 26 comments

co2.jpg

An esteemed reader left a comment on the Vostok ice core (illustrated above,) and seeing how global warming is a perpetually popular topic, I thought I would reply to his comment and explore this issue further. Plus I can’t think of anything else to blog about today, I have a severe case of the eebas. For the medically under informed, a case of the eebas is when a person doesn’t feel like doing anything except sitting around saying “Eeba, eeba, eeba.” Even worse, my cats are being boring, so no blog topic relief there. On the plus side, the weather is really nice and there’s no exceptionally horrible headlines in the news, so I guess I’m not complaining.

In any event, Jack commented:

You know I always have to hop on the statements about man-made global warming. I think the graph you posted gives the man-made global warming theory a complete thrashing. (Vostok or the Greenland Ice Core)

Think about it. Over 400,000 years we have seen rises in CO2 levels, notice the spike at about 400,000, between 350,000 and 300,000, 250,000 to 200,000, 150,000 to 100,000 and 50,000 and 0. Notice the cyclical nature of these rises and also the shape of the spikes. Looks like they happen ever 50,000 or so, and of course we are right in the path of the latest spike.

Now, a quick question. What man-made anomalies caused the rest of those spikes? Peat fires? In all reality, this is the elephant in the man-made global warming theorists living room, and the reason that most of the “scientists” promoting mm gw avoid it like the plague. I have used the Greenland Ice Core for years to debunk the theory of man-made global warming.

While my comments are directed at this question, they are actually meant for any readers who agree with Jack. IE people that think global warming is not man made.

To start with, at least we agree in the basics of the Vostok chart. This shows that the temperature of the Earth appears to be largely dependent on how much CO2 is in the atmosphere. The Vostok chart does not show human caused global warming and was not intended to demonstrate human caused global warming. It was merely one of any number of discoveries that were predicted and then made based on the theory that CO2 is the major regulator of warmth here on Earth. A theory which everyone is on board with, nu?

Yes, the chart does show that CO2 and earth’s temperature have risen and fallen over the past 400,000 years. No one is claiming that these variations were caused by humans, in fact how the Earth manages to stay within this narrow range of temperatures and CO2 concentrations is the subject of a great deal of debate and research. The point here, is that even with natural variation, these values have stayed within the range shown above for 400,000 years. Now the end of the chart:

gw_graph.JPG

This is where global warming comes in. Early in the 20th century the atmospheric CO2 passed 300 parts per million and just kept on rising. In 400,000 years the natural variation never topped 300 ppm, yet in the last few decades CO2 has gone 25% above that. And amazingly enough, this rise coincides neatly with humans dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at ever increasing rates. This is human caused global warming, and this is what increasingly cannot be explained away as “natural variation.”

Or if this is natural variation, show me what natural forces are coming into play now that didn’t exist for the last 400,000 years?

As for the last part of Jack’s comment:

What do you think? Is it possible that those people who think the Iraq war was a good proposition could actually be right on the global warming issue? Or are they a related subset of each other?

Sure, somebody could come up with a good study tomorrow that explains the sudden dramatic rise in atmospheric CO2 in the last century without invoking human produced CO2. As for people who still think the invasion of Iraq was a good idea, if the past four years is their idea of success, I don’t want to know what they would regard as failure. I can only guess that some people take more evidence to be convinced than others. The questions I would have for them are:

  1. How many more years of increasing global warmth, increasing atmospheric CO2, and increasing human CO2 production would it take to convince you that humans are a substantial part of the problem?
  2. In Iraq, how many more years like the last four would it take you to admit that just maybe the invasion wasn’t the best idea after all?

If you can’t quantify either number, or think of anything that might change your mind about these issues, we’ve moved into the realm of faith, not debate.

What’s scariest to me in both cases, is that there is at least some reason to believe that either situation (global warming or the War in Iraq) could get dramatically worse within the near future. World War Three or a major ice cap sliding into the sea would make this the good old days. Have a great decade and blessed be everyone!

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

 

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. They are not being used for profit, they are central to illustrating the post, and they are historically important images.)

Written by unitedcats

March 13, 2007 at 12:39 pm

26 Responses

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  1. Regarding the source of modern CO2 increase, that is the burning of fossil fuels — without doubt. Fossil-fuel carbon has a different isotopic composition than that which comes from volcanic activity or is dissolved in the oceans or soil. It’s depleted in C-13 (because its origin is organic plant matter) and depleted in C-14 (because it’s been buried underground for millions of years). The change in the isotopic composition of carbon in atmospheric CO2 matches exactly what we’d see if — and only if — the CO2 comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

    tamino

    March 13, 2007 at 12:58 pm

  2. Doug,

    First, sincere thanks for the post and reply! I really appreciate you taking the time to address my comments and questions.

    Also, I have been viewing a lot of your correlations with great interest and wondered what the war in Iraq had to do with denying any real impact from man made global warming. ha!

    Anyhow, I started a response to you and find that it is entirely too long, so I might just email it to you. The point you bring up though, is one that I really think should make a scientific and inquiring mind ask questions. That is, why IS does the global warming issue seem to be drawn down ideological lines. Of course this may be more of a question for a sociologist, but I have my theories.

    I’ll try to get my response to you as soon as possible. Will be back!

    -Jack

    Jack

    March 13, 2007 at 3:44 pm

  3. […] Heads Up: Global Climate Change Denial Bashing Posted March 14, 2007 What a wonderful post! […]

  4. Hi Doug,

    Back for more comment. For most, this whole debate is about “getting one up” on another–and of course I don’t debate that way. “Give me something to change my mind and I will” has always been my motto. My mind is still subject to change without warning.

    Ok, in science, one has to deal with the unknowns but keep in mind that they are still unknowns. As you know, if there are unknowns, then one can only develop theories, not establish fact. Fact is only established on known variables placed within current or past timeframes–NEVER future supposed outcomes. If you have had a chance to read Michael Crichton’s speech he uses a wonderful example about Carl Sagan’s “Nuclear Winter” models and formula and also the Drake Formula for the SETI project. Both took future unknowns and influenced public policy. (Good grief, when I was growing up it was only the superstitious and insane who believed in aliens–now apparently everyone does!–I was talking to a liberal friend who loftily informed me, “Only humans are egotistical enough to think we are the only intelligent life.” My reply was, “Wait a minute, Christian’s, Muslims, and almost every other religion out there has maintained we weren’t!”). Following our line of reasoning here, the unknown in this situation is the degree at which temperature will rise or the resultant effects that will have on the environment. As we have seen many times, when CO2 rose to a certain level, nature had a way of bringing the levels back down. What says that this time is any different? (Also, even among GW scientists there are those who forecast an increase in median temperatures from .25 degrees Celsius to as much as 10 degrees! Who to believe?–I instinctively tend to doubt the guy on the street in the sandwich board)

    Let me give you an example of nature’s power to compensate. The hand-wringing environmentalists are concerned about trees now growing in the tundra. They are concerned about its effect on the indigenous life forms and point to global warming as a cause for the growth of these trees. Of course the cause of these trees probably IS global warming. The interesting thing is, that there has been tree growth in the tundra a multiplicity of times before. Apparently, when CO2 levels have increased, well, so has abundant vegetation. CO2, after all, IS the building block of all life as we know it, and with its increase we are going to see new growth in places that were previously hostile to such and of course the emergence of new species and the extinction of old. This has been the life cycle of the earth (or have the “new left” become creation scientists and are abandoning the theory of evolution?), and this is supported by the science of the ice core, or geology, etc. Now lets use the models you have posted. If I read the graph above right (a 25% increase in atmospheric CO2 has caused a .5 degree (Fahrenheit) temperature increase. Is the assumption then to be made that if it rises 100% then we will jump 2 degrees higher? Can we possibly make it rise 100% over the highest level (even if we build factories whose sole purpose is to pump CO2 into the atmosphere). What about the host of other variables? Throughout history nature (SOMETHING) has compensated for the increases and brought CO2 and temperatures back down–what makes this time any different? What about those CO2 sucking trees growing in the tundra? Will we experience this apocalypse, or will nature go about like it normally has and compensate for variations. There is so much to this issue–it is a young science (if we can KEEP it to science)–and apparently an impetuous one, but if we can keep our heads level and refuse to feed into the ideological (religious) hysteria we may actually learn something. But, like you said, for many it is a faith-based foregone conclusion–so debate becomes pointless–I am finding that on other sites. Doug, my friend, you are the last true believer out there it seems that still has an open mind to the matter. (I don’t believe anything I could say to the two commenters above could change their minds, nor in reality would I really want to. While I always appreciated atheists challenging my religious paradigm, they never did much to shake my faith–largely made it stronger.)

    Keep in mind, Doug, that I am not denying that there may be global warming–never have–there was an ice age, and obviously it warmed considerably since then, but I am viewing with much skepticism the “repent, for the end is at hand” religion that has gripped people. It is so similar to religion that it is scary! The hand wringing, the self-recrimination, the preaching, the fundamental thought, but most sadly, the hypocrisy of people who attack “big oil” or “big something’s” but are doing nothing to decrease their own consumption of “big oil” or “big something’s” (and no, I don’t believe that if someone has TRUE conviction that the purchase of a hybrid car cuts it! If one truly wants to put their money where they religion is, ride a bike, buy a moped or better yet, for all those millions of Americans who are overweight according to “Supersize Me”, get off their lazy butts and walk! :) If I apply the absolute values that have become characteristic of this debate, one is either committed or they’re not, and the adulterous affair the current left is engaged in (supposed marriage to the proposition that man is the sinner and guilty of global warming and pending destruction, but engaging in the infidelity of doing almost nothing about it or even CONTRIBUTING toward the problem) is not what I would call commitment. Its like a fundamental Christian who is against abortion and about shoving that belief down others throats who has an abortion when her illicit affair on the side results in a pregnancy. Buying a hybrid and smugly going through life acting like you are “doing your part” is the equivalent of a Christian carrying his Bible to work after having beaten his wife. If there is true conviction and dedication then what are they doing, say, to eliminate our dependence on a host of goods that require petroleum to produce (practically everything manufactured requires petroleum resources–not to mention the distribution of it. Boycott, say…products!–refuse to buy anything because it is everything that is bought that is contributing toward the gases, the ecological nightmares of landfills–btw, did you know that the half-life of a dirty baby diaper is like 20 years!, etc.)

    All of my green friends for example, they recycle (of course I do too), but they drive cars, live in homes that consume much more energy than they really need, they have central heating and air, etc., etc. Dr. Clanton, a psychologist and personal friend, bought his daughter a Honda hybrid–but his sons have a pickup and a 69 t-bird, his wife has a Mercedes and a new Dodge, and he drives a Cadillac or his Lexus. Pardon me if I question his dedication to his religion or recoil at his judgmental sermons when he calls for an increase in industrial regulation and a tax (“Oh, I’m willing to pay it!” he says) on emissions. But Larry isn’t the exception I have noticed, he seems to be the rule.

    For as long as I can remember, people have rightfully critiqued the commitment of fundamental Christians to their religion when they didn’t live it, and now the fundamentalism rests on another foot but the critique is no longer acceptable? I don’t get it.

    Ok, let me answer your questions:

    1. How many more years of increasing global warmth, increasing atmospheric CO2, and increasing human CO2 production would it take to convince you that humans are a substantial part of the problem?

    Many more than I am seeing right now. The negative effects on our environment would have to be unbiasedly quantified (pros weighed with cons). I would need to see the record low temperatures reported along with the record high ones. I would need to have issues put in historical perspective when natural disasters hit, instead of everyone running around with their hands up in the air trying to appease the global warming gods because we have another hurricane or tornado or tsunami or drought or… I would have to be convinced that nature would not compensate this time just like it has in any other time in the known history of the world. I would have to see a lot more science and a lot less politics and apocalyptic religion. To go with what is being said, that we have 10 years left before total meltdown, the science has to be much more sound and you would have to convince me that the impact is going to be as great as “all the scientists” in the world are saying.

    Keep in mind, that the IPCC says that no matter WHAT we do we are doomed. If this is the case then

    -Let Grandma be able to buy affordable heat and cooling, each year her friends die because they can’t afford the rising cost of “green” energy.

    -Let her be able to drive her old 8 cylinder 79 Chevy to Wal-Mart and be able to shell out her meager social security earnings without paying exorbitant prices

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/299234_climateecon11.html .

    -Let the millions and millions of people employed throughout the world in the oil industry and the industry it fuels keep their jobs and livelihood.

    -Lets keep raising methane-producing cows so that I can enjoy the occasional steak at Texas Roadhouse.

    -Let’s refuse to pay the tax Chirac wants to levy against me and my kids.

    If NOTHING can be done, which was the conclusion of “sound” science, then why are we bothering to DO anything?

    Doug, the future has always been the judicature of either the gullible, the opportunist or the religious fanatic. I wouldn’t place you or me in any of those categories.

    2. In Iraq, how many more years like the last four would it take you to admit that just maybe the invasion wasn’t the best idea after all?

    I don’t know. I haven’t been over there–I can only go with what people tell me. There are some that say there has been a lot of good done there, there are some who say its all bad. Has some good come of it? I don’t know. Has some bad come of it–most assuredly. War is never a good thing in my book. I guess I go back to my original question about your correlation, Doug–what does the support of the Iraq War and people who question the current hysteria over global warming have in common? My original question was just a query as to how you came to that conclusion. Ellen Goodmen of the Boston Globe demonized a host of scientist, a huge portion of the world’s population by saying that anyone who questions the current politics of global warming was the equivalent of a “holocaust denier”–of course I find that interesting because all of the holocaust deniers I have ever known consider themselves liberals and wasn’t “holocaust denial” the fad of the left-leaning socialist/activist/academic types? Is Ellen Goodman saying she is a “conservative” now? One can see why I’m confused…

    Doug, my friend, my old dad used to tell me, “statistics don’t lie, only statisticians”. In this case, the numbers are not all on the table yet, and I’m not going to stake out a position until they are. I would not appreciate WWIII, global flooding or aliens attacking earth, but I am not going to spend my remaining days worried about things that may or may not take place that I have little or no control over. Mark that up to getting old and cautious. ha!

    Respectfully and in most good humor!

    -Jack

    bereans

    March 14, 2007 at 8:23 am

  5. Doug, I apologize for the italics. I’m not sure how that happened!

    bereans

    March 14, 2007 at 8:53 am

  6. Sorry for disturbing the scholarly environ, call it man-made disturance of nature, but I was just wondering whether the historically important photograph was taken by you.

    Manas

    March 15, 2007 at 8:26 am

  7. distrance can often be a disturbance. Especially if you wanted disturbance.

    sorry for the pun. i am not!

    Manas

    March 15, 2007 at 8:26 am

  8. Oh! ‘The photograph’ is in the next post. The cat. I am sorry for mixing up between posts.

    Manas

    March 15, 2007 at 4:13 pm

  9. Doug, thanks for an insightful and interesting post. I think there is a difference between faith and denial, however. The kind of magical thinking that does not look at unhappy facts has nothing particularly to do with religion and pretty much everything to do with selfishness.

    whig

    March 16, 2007 at 8:23 am

  10. Incidentally, for those who believe humans are the only intelligent species in the universe, perhaps a recommendation to read more about cats would be helpful.

    whig

    March 16, 2007 at 8:26 am

  11. Hi Whig!

    (Always enjoy discussing issues with you. )

    Couple of questions.

    If a person had said in the early 60s that the population bomb was an unknown and would probably not happen would they have been selfish (it was anticipated that 60 million Americans would die of starvation in the 90s due to overpopulation)?

    If a person back in the 70s had said, “There’s no need to stockpile food for the coming Ice Age.” Would they have been selfish? (In the first Earth Day in 1970, UC Davis’s Kenneth Watt said, “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” International Wildlife warned “a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war” as a threat to mankind. Science Digest said “we must prepare for the next ice age.” The Christian Science Monitor noted that armadillos had moved out of Nebraska because it was too cold, glaciers had begun to advance, and growing seasons had shortened around the world. Newsweek reported “ominous signs” of a “fundamental change in the world’s weather.” )

    The last time I heard a similar term out there for “denier” was by the fundamentally religious who refer to people as “unbelievers”.

    Who knows, one day we may see street preachers on opposing corners–one preaching hellfire and damnation without repentence from God, the other from Mother Nature.

    Your environmental agnostic,

    -Jack

    bereans

    March 16, 2007 at 10:01 am

  12. Doug,

    As I have mentioned I have been reading much of Dr. Crichton’s speeches lately. I have enjoyed them. He is a true environmental agnostic :)

    Anyhow, in this speech he calls into question the validity of the graph you use above. Thought you may find it interesting:

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speeches/npc-speech.html

    Regards,

    -Jack

    bereans

    March 16, 2007 at 10:12 am

  13. Jack, you are in denial. There was never a consensus about climate in the way there is today. The fact that individual scientists or small groups theorized this and that is just the nature of the scientific method. For every well established fact we can find a dozen other theories that were tried before.

    Since we haven’t talked in awhile, I hope I can remind you the last time you were in denial that Scooter Libby would be convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Are you prepared to accept that you were wrong and will you consider the possibility you are wrong about other things?

    whig

    March 17, 2007 at 1:52 am

  14. Michael Crichton writes science fiction, Jack. Science fiction.

    whig

    March 17, 2007 at 1:54 am

  15. By the way, here is my latest post on the Plame leak investigation if you would like to join me there to discuss it, since it is off the topic of global warming..

    whig

    March 17, 2007 at 2:10 am

  16. Yep, Whig, I am in denial. Just one of those doubting atheists…or a-warmists, I guess. ha!

    I will take exception, though, you may be a bit young to remember,but there was as much consensus about the pending Ice Age in the 70s as there is with the current global warming. Of course we didnt have the internet back then, but it was the same.

    I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Crichton. An M.D. from Harvard has a great deal of scientific knowledge no matter what he writes.

    You were right about Libby! I’ll pop over soon to look in on the Plame leak investigation.

    Good to hear from you.

    -Jack

    Jack

    March 17, 2007 at 5:45 pm

  17. What does a medical degree teach anyone about climate?

    whig

    March 17, 2007 at 5:57 pm

  18. No, the global cooling scare never reached the kind of consensus that global warming has. Also, and this is a rather important point, our understanding of climate and our data set has increased by orders of magnitude since the seventies. Global warming is based on science and data that simply weren’t available back then, to give the theories equal credence is disingenuous at best. As for Michael Crichton’s credential’s, they don’t matter. His arguments, however, are not persuasive and have been dealt with here:

    http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/fellows/sandalow20050128.pdf

    As always, thanks for the comments, I’m not done with this subject by a long shot. :) —Doug

    unitedcats

    March 17, 2007 at 6:31 pm

  19. Here is another excellent resource regarding Michael Crichton:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=74

    Doug

    unitedcats

    March 17, 2007 at 7:00 pm

  20. I will definitely read all of this, Doug. It is a long article with a lot of links so it may take me some time wading through it.

    Understand that I have no way of verifying what Dr. Crichton says any more than I can what Al Gore says, but I agree with him in principle. I have always been largely conservative (cautious) in my approaches to life in general–not easily panicked, not easily moved to action no matter what the crisis is. I have, however, always been prepared. For example, my current financial status is a result of years of planning, educating self, careful investment, etc. My portfolio has shown a good increase over time even though I didn’t jump in and out of the market during time of flux. I make my financial decisions based on sound and solid evidence and advice. I just think that given the history of this nation and its trendy thought, my methods are not the norm. Policy makers in this generation are not known for careful though, integrity or their brains–so I guess we’ll get what we get.

    Can you think of anything our government (or any for that matter) has done that it didn’t break? People look to government for salvation –Personally, I’m putting my faith elsewhere.

    -Jack

    bereans

    March 19, 2007 at 8:14 am

  21. BTW, Doug, the Brookings article shot itself in the foot in the third paragraph:

    “The plot of Crichton’s 14th novel is notable mainly for its nuttiness…”

    How is one supposed to read an article with any degree of seriousness after that?

    -Jack

    bereans

    March 19, 2007 at 8:18 am

  22. Um, I’ve read Crichton’s novel. It is nutty, but so are all Hollywood movies and best sellers. In the same way that most Americans can no longer distinguish between celebrities and heroes, they can no longer distinguish between fiction and non-fiction. Pointing out that a novel is fiction is perfectly reasonable, and doesn’t detract from the arguments.

    I have no solution for global warming, and most certainly am not expecting government to “do” anything about it. Do you ever see me advocating that the government take action on anything? I advocate that the government stop doing most of what it is doing.

    So whether global warming is real is mostly an intellectual exercise for me. Even on a personal level it doesn’t change my plans or advice. Don’t live in low laying coastal areas or other areas fraught with geologic hazard and be prepared to survive long term disruptions of government services. Whether or not global warming is real, we live on the surface of a volatile planet and it’s always prudent to be prepared.

    And yes, I advocate that people try to live “green” lifestyles and use energy frugally…but not because of global warming…because there are any number of good reasons for doing so.

    I’ll have to start another global warming post soon. :)

    Thanks again everyone for all the thoughtful comments. —Doug

    unitedcats

    March 19, 2007 at 9:09 am

  23. Doug,

    I suspected as much. I think that in this respect we think alike. I have always tried to be environmentally conscious just because I think its the right thing to do. (Don’t get me started on litter–it drives me nuts!)

    Anyhow, I look forward to more posts on the topic!

    Take care,

    -Jack

    (P.S. We have a record for comments on this one don’t we?:)

    bereans

    March 20, 2007 at 5:26 am

  24. […] right along, I think we set a new record for comments with my recent global warming post. I’ll re-marshal my arguments and post again soon. Though as I said in a comment myself, I […]

  25. I insist people to sign the global petition for the cause…

    Online Petition

    Rahul Makhija

    April 19, 2007 at 4:08 am

  26. Call your local weather man and ask him to reasearch the temperature records of the city you live in , most will go back over 100 years . Each year will have an average temperature, add those averages up and find the average temp for your city then rate each year. You will find that there is no such thing as global warming in your city. I have done this in 37 cities in the u.s.a . The only cities that show warming are large cities with a population over 2 million people. Or weather stations that are influenced by a heat island. Out of 37 cities studied so far I have found 2 that are warmer, LA and Atlanta

    jim hackman

    February 25, 2009 at 8:17 am


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