The Unpopular Side of Global Warming

Scientists and computer simulation scenarios offer up scary possibilities for the future of global warming. It is important to be stewards of our earth and society. But it is also important not to make more out of the earth's warming and cooling cycles than there really is.

A $60,000 climatology study was recently unveiled in Park City, Utah, and the news is not good. According to a computer modeling scenario, the temperature of earth will rise 6 to 15 degrees by the year 2100, and that means next to no snow for Utah's ski industry.

Computers have been known to make mistakes, especially when they are programmed incorrectly, and when they are fed incorrect information. And even more especially when they give man more credit than he deserves and nature less credit than it deserves when it comes to warming and cooling cycles.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a severe increase in earth's temperature by the year 2100 (1.4 and 5.8 °C increase) based on an increase of less than 1 degree Celsius in the last 150 years. Yet, in reality, not only do media and many politicians overlook that fact that IPCC's predictions are based on computer models, the theory of Global Warming is hotly contested.

Solar flares have had a distinct impact on the rise and fall of earth's temperatures, as has been measured over the last few centuries. The earth's temperature has increased and decreased in the past. Glaciers have covered much more and much less of the earth than they do now.

The IPCC's predictions of Carbon Dioxide increases and contribution to the earth's warming have been contested by reputable scientists as well.

One of the effects of global warming is the melting of the earth's ice fields and the concomitant increase in the level of the earth's oceans. The United Nations Environment Programme has this to say about a rise in ocean level:

Over the last 100 years, the global sea level has risen by about 10 to 25 cm. It is likely that much of the rise in sea level has been related to the concurrent rise in global temperature over the last 100 years.

But then it admits:

Sea level change is difficult to measure.

The end result? It's important to understand our earth and its environment, but it's also important not to exaggerate man's ability to affect it. It might mean a lot less money for James Hansen, Al Gore, and the environmentalists who have a stake in global warming, but it will make a lot of the rest of us sleep a little easier.

I would much rather rely on observation of what has actually happened than on computer models that predict, based on assumptions of what's happened, that the sky is falling.

Other insights into the economics of global warming:


  1. Frank, global warming is not "hotly contested." Most scientists agree that global warming is a threat.

    Moreover, to wait to "observe" whether global warming occurs is silly. That's like leaning over a cliff to "observe" at what angle you are likely to fall. Or to stand outside in fields during thunderstorms to "observe" how many times you have to do this before you're struck by lightning.

    Global warming is a result of pollution and deforestation, both of which pose health hazards even if global warming never happens. Should we do nothing??

  2. Two points:

    First of all, I do NOT recommend doing nothing. I believe it is vital to be good stewards of earth. It is important to find ways to reduce pollution, increase forestation, etc.

    Secondly, those who hotly contest global warming have observed historical trends and don't share the viewpoint of those on the popular and media-popularized side of the issue.

    It just takes a level-headed view instead of an exaggerated one to effect the appropriate solution.

  3. My fear is that reactionaries like Al Gore and some of the more extreme environmentalists will have an impact with policy makers. The last thing we need is to cripple our economy trying to meet CO2 standards like the Kyoto protocol.

  4. jeremy, there is nothing to fear. If the federal government spent money on developing solar, wind and other alternate energy sources and invested in our public transportation infrastructure it would create jobs.

  5. Frank, you linked to a Wikipedia entry but I'm wondering if you misread it:

    "While there is little debate on the existence of anthropogenic global warming among mainstream, published climate scientists, there is an ongoing debate about global-warming theories in the popular media, and on a policy level"

    In other words, "mainstream, published climate scientists" AGREE that global warming is real. The "debate" is occuring among non-scientist, professional opinionators--talk radio hosts and the like--and Bush regime lackeys with ties to large corporations seeking to make short-term profits.

  6. Here's some more info, summarized today in a NY Times article:

    " more recent studies reviewed for the coming report, various trends provide clues that human activity, rather than natural phenomena, probably caused most of the recent warming. A number of trends have been identified:

    ¶The global average minimum nighttime temperature has risen. (This is unlikely to be caused by some variability in the sun, for example, and appears linked to the greenhouse gases that hold in heat radiating from the earth’s surface, even after the sun has gone down.)

    ¶The stratosphere, high above the earth’s surface, has cooled, which is an expected outcome of having more heat trapped by the gases closer to the surface, in the troposphere. (Scientists say that variations in the sun’s output, for example, would instead cause similar trends in the two atmospheric layers instead of opposite ones.)

    ¶There has been a parallel warming trend over land and oceans. (In other words, the increase in the amount of heat-trapping asphalt cannot be the only culprit.)

    “There’s no urbanization going on on the ocean,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the climate monitoring branch of the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

    Another important finding comes from computer simulations of the climate system. While the several dozen top models remain rough approximations, they have become progressively better at replicating climate patterns, past and present.

    In the models, the only way to replicate the remarkable warming, and extraordinary Arctic warming, of recent decades is to add greenhouse gases as people have been doing, Dr. Lawrimore said.

    “Without the greenhouse gases,” he said, “you just don’t get what we’ve observed.”"

  7. Elizabeth,

    I've agree with some of your other statements regarding this topic. I also agree with you that government should 'invest in' (encourage, make it easier to develop) alternate energy sources.

    Now for my disagreement:

    The use of the term "mainstream" lends less credence to the wikipedia article's implication that only wackos dispute the Religion of Global Warming, rather than more. Reputable scientists (particularly those outside the US with much less to gain politically should be listened to) the world over dispute Al Gore and others' scare tactics.

  8. Frank, I'm not capable of evaluating individual scientists because I am not one myself. But I do know that the majority of scientists now believe global warming is a threat. Maybe it isn't unanimous, but it is the majority opinion.

    If your child had a high fever, and three out of five doctors at the hospital recommended antibiotics, what would you do?

  9. Elizabeth,

    Regarding the NY Times article of yesterday on Global warming:

    I agree with the observation that we should reduce deforestation and that we should find cleaner forms of energy. Yet, I still don't think man's contribution to warming is nearly as big as the politically-charged IPCC claims. Their conclusions are based mostly on computer simulations, which to me are highly suspect, as their inputs can be manipulated to derive whatever solution one wants.

    The Times story mentions nothing about solar activity, which for the last several years has been abnormally high, as having an effect on warming.

    This news story gives an entirely different perspective than the Times' article--that the IPCC has been highly politicized, and has been given a mandate to make the findings fit a pre-conceived notion. Several honest scientists are very disturbed by what they've seen at the IPCC.

  10. "computer simulations, which to me are highly suspect, as their inputs can be manipulated to derive whatever solution one wants."

    that's a pretty serious accusation, Frank. In fact it sounds...paranoid. I hope you're not one of those people who sees conspiracies everywhere.

    Actually there are no hidden conspiracies. The big oil companies have been pretty open about how they've been trying to undermine global warming research. did you see the Guardian article I posted on my blog about their $10,000 bribes to scientists?

  11. We should find out if Richard Lindzen or Christopher Landsea got any of those bribes!

  12. It doesn't take conspiracy theorizing to think that computer simulations can be made as politicized as the people who create/influence them. In fact that was the main point of my previous comment, from which you took a tidbit about "computer simulations" out of context.

    I haven't had a chance to look at the Guardian article yet, but I will stop by your site.


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