Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

h1

Climatic gates come tumblin’ down

27-Jan-2010

For years, I accepted the supposed scientific consensus that the earth was warming, that warming above a certain point would be catastrophic, and that mankind’s “greenhouse” gas emissions were the primary cause. I believed that Aspen ski resorts were at  danger of closing due to lack of snow, the arctic would be ice free, and that the science is settled regarding human induced climate change.

However, the claims of a climatic tipping point led me to investigate further. I am an electrical engineer. I know that if positive feedback systems are not designed properly, they can fail catastrophically. Such systems are unstable. I found it difficult to believe that our atmospheric system was so unstable that there would be a “tipping point” of no return.

So, I investigated. I learned how the greenhouse gas theory worked; that CO2 would pass through the sun’s short wave radiation, but it would be opaque to the earth’s own long wave radiation – thus trapping energy. I discovered that even doubling or tripling the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere alone could not raise the theoretical temperature of the earth to the heights being warned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); that required positive feedback of water vapor which would provide most of the temperature increases. I learned the names of the major scientists warning of anthropogenic global warming (AGW): Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Gavin Schmidt, Dr. Phil Jones. I found out that there exists three primary surface temperature data sets: CRU, GISS and NCDC, and that here exist two satellite data sets: UAH and RSS – that are used to calculate global average temperature.

I also learned that the science is not settled, and there exist prestigious researchers who believe AGW theory is either over blown, or is fatally flawed: Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. I discovered that the positive feedback of water vapor is but a theory; different studies have inferred both positive and negative feedback and there is no conclusive proof this theory holds up. I found out that the three surface temperature data bases have 90% to 95% overlap of raw data, so the data between them is not truly independent, and that this data gets “adjusted” by the various entities who report the data. I learned that most of the expected dramatic temperature increases and consequences of those increases are derived from computer models – not from empirical evidence. As a firmware engineer, I am well aware that computer models are only as good as the assumptions they are programmed with.

Most of all, I learned that the absolute certainty and scientific unanimity of belief in AGW was a myth – AGW is a theory and observational data can and does contradict that theory.

Besides the scientific uncertainties came the behavioral ones. While skeptical AGW web sites, such as Watt’s Up With That, allows the free discourse of opinion, pro AGW web sites, such as realclimate do not. The opinions and scientific papers of the researchers who have skeptical leanings seemed to be marginalized. Then came the confirmation: climategate. The subject of climategate merits its own post. However, the leaked emails from climategate showed conclusively that the top pro-AGW climate scientists were colluding to assure that dissenting voices were not heard – either in the media or in scientific peer-reviewed journals.

My faith in the scientists who are pushing the pro-AGW agenda is seriously eroded. At this point, I believe that the available evidence shows that climate change IS happening – but it is not to the extent that we have been led to believe, and the cause of that change is natural variation. Climate change will ALWAYS happen: the very nature of the earth assures that. But the emissions of CO2 by man made causes are very unlikely to be the primary cause of future climate variations.

Advertisements
h1

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.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance