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Global Warming: A Whole Lot of Mistakin’ Going On

2-Jul-2008

Ok kids, it’s time for your global warming quiz. Sharpen up your number 2 pencils, and answer the following questions:

1. Approximately what percent of annual CO2 release to the atmosphere are humans responsible for?
a) 95%
b) 75%
c) 50%
d)  3%

Answer: d, 3%. Source: International Panel on Climate Change and Dr. Elmar Uherek.

There is a lot of hand waving about how much CO2 we are “polluting” the earth with. However, nature sources about 97% of the CO2 gas released annually.

2. Which chemical is responsible for the vast majority of the “greenhouse” affect?
a) CO2 – Carbon Dioxide
b) CH4 – Methane
c) H2O – Water

Answer: c, Water. Source: realclimate.org (estimates 67% to 85% of greenhouse affect), and Freidenreich and Ramaswamy, Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water, and a Parameterization for General Circulation Models (estimates 95% of greenhouse affect).  (Note, I have not personally seen the latter paper).

Despite all of the concern over CO2, water constitutes between two-thirds and nineteen-twentieths of the total “greenhouse” affect.

3. If the concentration of pre-industrial revolution CO2 in the atmosphere were doubled (a 100% increase), this would increase the total CO2 affect on global climate by:
a) 1,000%.
b)   100% (or double).
c)    12%.

Answer: c: 12% increase. Source: A combination of the following: using calculation from the International Panel on Climate Change This professor thinks the IPCC estimates are high. This site also offers a radically different interpretation from the IPCC. Note: ALL sources predict a logarithmic relationship (this is known from basic chemistry) – the disagreement is one of scale.

Because of saturation, CO2 (and other “greenhouse” gasses), have a logarithmic, not linear, relationship with the amount of gas versus the amount of energy the gas can hold. Therefore doubling CO2 concentrations would not double the affect.

Climate change is a natural occurrence. Our world has experienced many cycles of warming and cooling over the last 400,000 years or so. Many “ice ages” have occurred, and “global warming” has followed.

We are seeing climate change today. We will see it in every era, because of the natural cycles. The question really is: are our activities as humans having a significant affect on the earth’s climate? Are we causing “global warming”?

Frankly, I don’t know. But people hand waving and frothing at the mouth about poorly understood items are not helpful. I do not claim that spewing tons of CO2 into the atmosphere is a good idea. However, the public at large is ignorant of what “greenhouse” affects are, how we came up with the idea of man-made climate change, and where the numbers come from that predict dire increases in temperatures.

Yet, we are insisting our politicians make decisions based on our own ignorance.

Our data sets are narrow. Precision temperature measurements are only good for the past 100 years or so. Predicting a .5 degree Celsius average temperature increase using data with an error factor of a +- 2 degrees, is just foolish.

We also must understand how the predictions for a future rise in average temperature is made. This is done using computer models, that are very simplified, and make many assumptions. These assumptions have been wrong before. This NASA data resulted in large scale changes to the models in 2004. Lately, more sattelite data, has shown some of the basic premises of human contributions to global warming to be incorrect. The result; the current models are mere guesswork, not scientific fact.

What should be done? We need to let the scientists do the science. They will eventually figure it out. But when politics mixes with incomplete data, the science debate changes. It becomes a creationism vs. evolution debacle, where fanaticism overrides concrete data and common sense.

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6 comments

  1. 12% is a great annual return on investment in my opinion. If we looked at the H2O in our auto exhaust, we would understand that most of our tailpipe GHG is H2O, and that is the biggest problem of them all.

    Couple that with atmospheric aerosols dimming the solar radiation, and you have a recipe that spells disaster for crop yields and predictable weather patterns.

    Do something?

    If you don’t know if the fire burns because you lost nerve sensation in your finger, how much of the finger must char before you remove the what’s left from the fire.

    There was one Star Trek epsode where Kirk related how the planet scientists knew there was a problem but were unable to prevent the inevitable outcome.

    More prophecy as only celluloid cann deliver…..

    If you can’t sit in your car in a closed garage with the engine running, shouldn’t that tell you something?

    No?

    How about if you have to carpet bomb Iraq and deploy the 7th fleet to keep the Straights of Hormuz free of Silkworm threats just so you can drive your Hummer to cash your tax stimulus check on beer and cigarettes?

    Would that be OK?


  2. Wow, where to begin – the beginning, I suppose.

    For many reasons not worth going into here, water issued from tailpipes is not an issue for global warming.

    As for “If you don’t know if the fire burns”, If fear of being burned keeps one from starting a fire to begin with, then advances never happen. There are always risks – we just have to decide, based on data, which risks are acceptable.

    The “can’t sit in your car in a closed garage” comment: You can’t sit in a enclosed space and breathe forever either. Does that tell you, you should stop breathing? Carbon Monoxide (CO) is what kills you from a tailpipe. CO is not implicated as a major “greenhouse” gas. The Carbon Dioxide issued from the tailpipe poses the same danger as the CO2 you exhale. So, save the planet and stop breathing ;)

    Finally, war in the middle East. If you read my “Cheap Gas!” posts, you will find I am adamantly opposed to fighting for oil in the Middle East. I think we should invest in alternative, sustainable, energy sources in our own country. I most certainly do not drive a Hummer (SUVs are anathema to me), and I don’t smoke. The occasional beer though . . . .

    You ask: “Would that be OK”? No, absolutely not. It is stupid to send our military heroes to die for oil – but that’s another discussion. This one was about anthropogenic climate change. The two are not the same.


  3. All Co2 comes from volcanoes and cow farts! It’s science!


  4. I gotta give props though, the title of this blog is great.


  5. Thanks for the post


  6. You say:

    Freidenreich and Ramaswamy, Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water, and a Parameterization for General Circulation Models (estimates 95% of greenhouse affect).

    This paper says nothing of the sort. They measured absorption of SOLAR radiation, that is, straight from the Sun, which is primarily in the near-infrared. It says absolutely NOTHING about the greenhouse effect, which involves absorption of infrared emitted by the Earth.

    When people who cite it for “water vapor is 95% of the greenhouse effect” it means they either didn’t read it (which you at least own up to) or they didn’t understand it.



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