Monday, August 17, 2009

Global Warming: A Perspective from an Actual Scientist

History demonstrates that climate change is related to a variety of things, of which all the CO2 in the world is a very minuscule contributor. So says a real scientist, Ian Plimer. Real science is unrelated to politics. Unlike perhaps any other clearly observable phenomenon, the science of global warming has been diluted beyond recognition by the shrill cries of Hollywood and related non-scientific opinion.

"Climate science lacks scientific discipline." So writes Ian Plimer, Australia's most respected geologist, and author of the book Heaven and Earth: Global Warming, the Missing Science. Science, Plimer says, is based on evidence, and not on computer models, which have

Insurance modelers did not factor in two Boeing 767 jets destroying the World Trade Center... Natural systems are far more complex

already been proven to be grossly inaccurate in predicting the temperatures for even the first few years of the 21st century. Science, he says, is based on evidence, not on concensus.
The claim by some scientists that the threat of human-induced global warming is 90% certain (or even 99%) is a figure of speech reflecting the speaker's commitment to belief. It is comparable to 100% certainty professed by religious devotees that theirs is the one and only true faith.
The theory of significant human-induced global warming is now on wobbly legs, as Plimer reminds us that more and more evidence mounts against it. As the evidence mounts, fear tactics increase to compensate; in the face of truth, grimmer and grimmer scenarios of future climate cataclysm are tossed upon the media airwaves, while the actual science is increasingly ignored.

One of the two largest contributors to misunderstanding about global warming (besides the conflation of human opinion with scientific fact) is computer modeling. Plimer says
It is very easy for the modeler to produce the predestined outcome before the model can be run. Models are not evidence. All a model shows is something about the model itself and the modelers. Data collection in science is derived from observation, measurement, and experiment, not from modelling. We can't make nature conform to virtual computer models. ...nearly two dozen climate models exaggerate the effects of CO2. Insurance modelers did not factor in two Boeing 767 jets destroying the World Trade Center... Natural systems are far more complex, and it is naive to think that a model can predict future events on earth.
While models to not "observe" anything, there are a plethora of ways to observe current global warming, as well as its historical effects. Observation of such things as lake and ocean sediments, ice cores, pollen, tree rings, stalagmites, and historical records are much more helpful than the most sophisticated computer model.

In 1896, chemist Svante Arrhenius postulated that if CO2 in the atmosphere were to double, the temperature would rise by 5 degrees Celsius. He has since been proven wrong, but his theory of over 100 years ago still informs many of the computer models which incorrectly predict that man's activities are causing us to bake in our own juices.

In order to understand how the earth warms and cools, a variety of sciences must be understood. We need to understand much more than just CO2, which makes a nearly infinitesimally small contribution to global warming. To give you some idea of how complex global warming really is, Ian Plimer writes
The history of temperature change over time is related to the shape of continents, the shape of the sea floor, the pulling apart of the crust, the stitching back together of the crust, the opening and closing of the seaways, changes to the Earth's orbit, changes in solar energy, supernova eruptions, comet dust...
...and I'm barely half done with the list that Plimer provides. Plimer concludes
If we humans, in a fit of ego, think we can change these normal planetary processes, then we need stronger medication.
Pollution is what we should really be worried about, but we're controlling pollution with greater and greater success. Catalytic converters helped reduce pollution markedly through their conversion of 95% of things like nitric oxide and sulphur dioxide to H2O (water). Smog is still a problem in the world, however, but only in the less-developed part of the world (i.e. that part of the world that has been less influenced by the free market). China suffers the "Asian Brown Cloud", which sometimes affects North America. Humans have made great technological strides in controlling pollution, which strides would not have been made if government had been in control of the research into the potential of these technologies.

Before you had read this article, were your nerves frazzled because you were convinced that the earth would fry before the year 2050? Hopefully you're inhaling and exhaling normally now, because real scientists know that there is nothing that man is doing--or can do--to cause you any worry about global warming.


  1. "Real scientist" is a geologist who happens to be the director of three mining companies. Geology is a science, but not one that focuses on climate. Nice try though. I suspect you would dismiss his views on creationism in spite of his "real" scientific credentials and the fact geology has a lot to offer on that subject.

  2. Wow! The very first comment casts aspersions at Ian Plimer rather than reading and researching the book and its copious footnotes. Just for kicks and giggles, I typed "plimer geologist three mining companies" into google, and I found a plethora of such aspersions. So now I know where you get YOUR information.

  3. "Smog is still a problem in the world, however, but only in the less-developed part of the world ..."

    Huh? Oh yeah, I forgot, we have "haze".

  4. Pointing out Google has numerous references to the fact he is a mining executive isn't exactly a denial. In fact, one would tend to think the numerous "aspersions" on Google make it more likely to be true, given just how numerous you admit they are. The IPCC report, just to name one of the very many books and studies out there documenting the reality of global warming, also has "copious footnotes" but since that doesn't matter to you, I don't know why I should care how well footnoted Plimer's book is.

  5. Don,

    Assuming that you really don't get my point, I'll rephrase it: "Smog is much less of a problem in the western world than it once was, and it is much more of a problem in many less developed countries."


    My point actually was that so many of the aspersions on Google use the same canned crap that you did. You would be more reputable if (a) you used your name in your comments, and (b) you actually attempted to rebut anything in the "mining executive"'s book. Quite telling, isn't it, that this "mining executive" has won Australia's highest scientific honor twice? Question: In the copious notes that the IPCC documents have, is there contained a mention/embarrassed apology about the "hockey stick" research included therein that fraudulently left out ample evidence of warmings and coolings over the last several centuries?

  6. Frank,
    Accuracy in words is a pet peeve of mine, in case you haven't noticed. ;)

    I assumed you meant something along those lines. However, how was I to really know from reading your actual choice of words in your original post? Saying smog is only a problem in the less-developed part of the world seems to be a statement of fact on your part. It's an erroneous statement and could lead your readers to think you either don't know what you are talking about or you simply don't care to be precise in the way you formulate an argument.

    Just trying to help . . . :)

  7. Don,

    It is a good correction. Thanks. I just thought you were nitpicking to stir up a tangential controversy. ;-) As I went back and read that phrase, though, I realize that I should have employed a much better choice of words.

  8. Tangential controversy? Me? ;)

    Seriously though, global warming isn't one of my favorite subjects. Being a liberal I do tend to trust liberals more on the subject but I always appreciate a good argument from the other side as well. I think there's a lot of conjecture and misrepresentation on both sides so I mostly just stay out of it.

    One thing I think we both agree on though is the need for continued diligence in the area of pollution control. I disagree, however, with your notion that the "free market" led to great improvements in pollution control. If government had not held industry's feet to the fire, do you really think they would have come up with anything meaningful to control pollution? I doubt it. We'd be stuck in the same brown clouds as China. When industry runs amok then who pushes back? We do (i.e. the government).

  9. Putting aside the issue of Plimer's possible connections to the mining industry and the conflict of interest that could represent, you've avoided other issues Anonymous raised: there are other works out there with copious documentation, statistics, and "footnotes" out there, at least some of which are authored by people whose scientific expertise is more relevant than geology. Why should we trust this one more than those? Have you read them? Or were you simply so thrilled to find one which supported your prior conclusions that you've adopted this as the end-all-be all?

    Don is righ. Government regulation been a key factor in much of the improvement which has occurred. Yes, the market has also played a role; I would also point out that the environmental movement for which you have shown such disdain has played a key role in developing the market for more environmentally safe products and processes through their public awareness, advocacy, and education efforts. Had we leaned on the wisdom of the conservative free market idolaters, things would have been considerably worse. Even as we've made a number of improvements, the market has continued to make things worse in other aspects, such as the amount of the agricultural and chemical runoff which is causing problems along the Mississippi.

  10. Derek,

    I will admit that I have only read Inconvenient Truth (not a great counterargument, you'll probably agree) and "The Weather Makers" by Tim Flannery (whose main thesis is "we don't know for sure, but Mt Kilimanjaro's glaciers are receding so that proves that man causes global warming, and this South American frog species is missing, so that proves that man causes global warming"). But that's all. Given my limited amount of time at reading, though, I would APPRECIATE IT if someone would refute--with something they have read from another "real scientist"--anything that I have stated in the article in addition to the side-note that Don has talked about.

    By the way, you KNOW that I don't disdain the entire environmental movement--just that part of it that jumps to ill-founded conclusions about man supposedly causing significant global warming.


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