A Criticism of Climate Change Science

The following was provided by Dr. William F. Downs, a Geochemist and friend. I’ve done a tiny bit of editing, and added a comment at the end. The timing is perfect as a contrast to  the review posted today.

earth climate changeThere is little controversy over the fact that the temperature of Earth is currently rising and has been since the end of the “Little Ice Age” which lasted from about 1380 AD until circa 1780 AD.  Previously the climate experienced a warm period which was called the “Millennium Optimum” (c. 850 AD – 1300 AD) when I studied it during the 1960s.  It was considered “optimum” because the Vikings were able to expand into and develop farms in Greenland and grapes that had been planted in Britain by the Romans produced wine.  By the early 1300s, Greenland was no longer able to sustain agriculture and the Viking society in Greenland had collapsed.  There was another warming period termed the “Roman Warm Period” that existed in the first few centuries after the time of Christ.  The “Little Ice Age” was documented by Monks in Monasteries along the roads to Rome as Alpine Pilgrims on their way to Rome told their stories of glacial destruction of their Villages.

The temperatures and CO2 contents of the atmosphere in the past are estimated by measuring the oxygen isotope ratios and concentrations of CO2 released from ice cores collected from Vostok Glacier in Antarctica.  These data have been collected from ice that had formed during the last 100,000 years or so.  These data indicate that the current temperature level is lower than those experienced during the Millennial Warming Period. Continue reading

Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report from Copenhagen, Denmark that said, in summary, “Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emission to zero this century…” (I’m assuming they don’t intend to reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and other animals.)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”  The report once again mentions the “…melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice…”

I’ve expressed my opinions on this subject many times, and I still consider myself a denier, as the global warming advocates enjoy calling people who don’t agree with them. I still think the earth may warm, or it may cool, but it is certain the climate will change just as it always has.

I intend to focus on Antarctic and Arctic ice levels posted on the National Sea and Ice Data Center web site. Recent peak levels in the Antarctic set a new record over the period of satellite observations. Global warming fans say that isn’t important. I reason, perhaps naively, that warmer temperatures probably would result in less ice and not more. Continue reading

Climate Science is Not Settled

There was an excellent article by Steven E. Koonin by this title in the Wall Street Journal. The subtitle was “We are very far from the knowledge needed to make good climate policy…” The author refuses to be on either side of what has become an increasingly contentious argument about whether or not man’s activities are leading us to a climate disaster that, according to some of our politicians, beats terrorism as the greatest threat. The article adds refreshing reason to the discussion. He was undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy during President Obama’s first term. Perhaps those who are convinced that climate science is settled will dismiss his ideas because one previous position was chief scientist of British Petroleum. I suggest you will learn something regardless of your position if you chose to read his article.

The article leads with the statement that the claim that “Climate Science is settled” “…has distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment…it has also inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.” The author observes that the crucial question isn’t whether the climate is changing “The climate has always changed and always will.” The average global temperature did increase by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the 20th century, and there is little doubt carbon dioxide levels increased in the atmosphere and influenced the climate. But the author follows those observations with, “The impact of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.” He also writes that he has “…come to appreciate the daunting scientific challenge of answering the questions that policy makers and the public are asking.” Continue reading

Costs of Fighting Global Warming

I was inspired to weigh in again on the issue of global warming by an article titled “Post-coal Pueblo left out in the cold” by Lydia DePillis of the Washington Post. Under the headline there is a picture of Pueblo resident Sharon Garcia who “…doesn’t allow lights to be left on in rooms that aren’t being used.” She had her power shut off in 2010, and is constantly struggling to make ends meet running a day care center. She is struggling with paying her electricity bill because the residential rate per kilowatt hour has increased 26 percent since 2010.

The reasons for the increase are complex, and I suggest you read the entire article. The impact of regulatory requirements on utility companies is what attracted my attention. A big part of the problem is caused by “…coal plants shutting down as Colorado transitions to renewable energy.” Black Hills Energy provides power to Pueblo, and Colorado’s 2010 Clean Air—Clean Jobs act caused them to shutter three older plants that would have been too expensive to overhaul. Utility regulators guarantee Black Hills an 8.53 percent return, which gives it an incentive to close nearly all of its relatively inexpensive coal capacity, build new plants, and pass the costs to consumers. Continue reading

Global Warming Commentary by Guest

Ponderer and I have posted “dueling” commentaries on global warming. A reader sent a paper to join the discussion. It is longer than commentaries usually posted on this site, but it has so much information that deserves consideration that I’ve decided to post it in its entirety with a few minor edits.

The so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ comes about by short wave radiation impinging on the earth from the sun.  Some fraction of this short wave radiation is reflected back into space with little effect.  Another fraction is absorbed by the earth.  Essentially blackbody long wave radiation is emitted from the earth’s surface as a result.  Carbon dioxide (and a few other gases that we will get to) absorbs and reemits this longer wave radiation.  It emits the longer wave radiation in all directions, so some fraction comes back to be reabsorbed by the earth’s surface (either soil or water).  On balance under these conditions there is more heat (in the form of both long and short wave radiation) entering the system than leaving it, so overall heating occurs. Continue reading

Arctic Ice Increases

NASA-funded National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) image taken from dailymail.co.uk

NASA-funded National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) image taken from dailymail.co.uk

National Geographic has an extensive article titled “Rising Seas” in the September 2013 magazine. The first several pages are about the massive destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy. The article then turns to making dire predictions. “By releasing carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases into the atmosphere, we have warmed the Earth by more than a full degree Fahrenheit over the past century and raised sea level by about eight inches. Even if we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, the existing greenhouse gases will continue to warm the Earth for centuries. That report is countered by an article by David Rose that the Arctic ice cap grew by almost a million square miles and increased coverage by 60% in 2012. Continue reading

Carbon Dioxide Solubility in the Oceans

Al Gore is shown marching in front of a large graph showing atmospheric temperature and levels of carbon dioxide in the movie “An Inconvenient Truth.” He smiles and observes that the two lines look related. He proposes that carbon dioxide from burning hydrocarbons has caused the small amount of warming over the last century. Those who don’t believe man is the cause of this warming are called “deniers” who ignore the scientific facts. I proudly accept the name “denier,” but point out that I do not deny nor ignore the scientific facts. What Mr. Gore neglects to mention is that the warming shown by the graphs occurs decades before the carbon dioxide levels increase. The warming therefore could not have been caused by increases in atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide since the warming comes first. Mr. Gore has to deny the scientific facts to defend his theory.   Continue reading