Saturday, February 20, 2010
Global Warming is "Very Likely" at a "Tipping Point"
Global Warming is "Very Likely"
I recently asked a couple of my Facebook friends--Cliff Lyon and Rocky Anderson--if they could give me incontrovertible evidence whether man was causing global warming. They both turned to the newly-in-vogue mantra that it was "very likely" that man was doing so, and if I understood science I would understand that that's the best it can get. Fine. But let's compare that with some other "very likely" scenarios.
Scenario 1: Without any other forces acting on him, a boy jumps off a high tree branch. Is it "very likely" that he will fall to the ground?
Scenario 2: I turn up the stove element until it is red hot. I put my bare hand on the stove element. Is it "very likely" that my hand will get burned?
Scenario 3: A measuring station measures in increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Is it "very likely" that carbon dioxide has increased?
Scenario 4: Man uses fossil fuels that demonstrably add to CO2 content of the atmosphere. The earth shows a period of warming. Is it "very likely" that man caused the warming?
I think you see that--whether or not science is only able to show that something is "very likely"--scenarios 1, 2, and 3 are about as close to incontrovertible as we can get, while scenario 4 is just as much "very unlikely" as it is "very likely". The answer to the question in scenario 4 is "we don't yet know". There is no shame in admitting this. But it takes a shameful leap of immense faith to dare to proclaim as "very likely" that man is causing very much global warming at all, not to mention the mis-allocation of resources that would occur if people were to allow their governments to take such claims seriously.
When it comes to global warming, there IS some evidence that is incontrovertible. One of the most important of these facts is that man IS adding to the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. The other is that the earth DOES have cycles of warming. It's ironic that most man-made global warming advocates don't want you to know that most so-called "global warming skeptics" actually believe these two incontrovertible facts. So they make up all kinds of false stories about what we so-called "deniers" believe.
By the way, another "very likely" scenario posed to me by Rocky Anderson was this: if someone told you that it was "very likely" that your child was going to be run over by a car, what would you do? Answer: I guess I'd first try to find out if my child was playing in the middle of the street.
Global Warming is Nearing A Tipping Point
In the year 2000, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. I'm not sure if this is where man-made global warming alarmists got their idea from, but it seems to me recently that they have begun to raise the spectre of a carbon dioxide "tipping point". Despite seeming to be an act of desperation akin to the last gasps of an unpopular snake-oil salesman, the fear mongering of the alarmists seems to me very akin to the "ticking time bomb" scenario made so infamous by the thug Jack Bauer on the TV series "24".
The fact of the matter is that Carbon Dioxide makes up only about 380 of every million molecules in the atmosphere. Since 1959, the Mauna Loa observatory has measured that CO2 is increasing at the rate of just over 1 part per million per year. At that rate, in about another 250 years, carbon dioxide will have doubled in the atmosphere since 1959.
If CO2 were to double in the atmosphere, and if nothing else changed, it would raise the temperature by 1 degree Fahrenheit. CO2 has risen by 1/5 in the last 50 years. That does not sound to me like we're anywhere near any sort of tipping point. That sounds like we have at least a couple of decades to sensibly pursue alternative forms of energy.
Come to think of it though, global warming may indeed be very likely to hit a tipping point soon. That tipping point, however, will probably be a preponderance of Americans seeing past the religious faith that is required of man-made global warming alarmists in order for them to make their unproven and outlandish claims.