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All That’s Wrong With Global Warming Advocates

(a Jul 30, 2003 blog of mine on Ecademy…not much has changed. Or has it?)

In a few words here by John Houghton, former chief executive of the British Meteorological Office

Human induced global climate change is a weapon of mass destruction at least as dangerous as nuclear, chemical or biological arms, a leading British climate scientist said Monday

Well, I refuse to join Mr Houghton and his fellow scaremongers and agitators.

Human-caused Climate Change is something big enough to be extra-ordinary enough to warrant extra-ordinary proof.

For heaven’s sake, somebody is claiming that humans can have effects over a planet-wide phenomenon. Those same humans that can’t predict earthquakes, can’t switch off a volcano, can’t change the course of ocean currents, can’t stop hurricanes, can’t make sustainable quantities of rain, can’t even generate nor control wind (of the non-intestinal variety). We have no idea of entire major waterflows in the North Atlantic, and yet somebody thinks to be able to cause (and to tell) a few degrees difference in the Earth’s climate over 50 or 100 years?

Vague threats and doom-and-gloom scenarios make little sense. Give me a break. Or give me evidence that the climate is really changing because of humans. For example by showing what is the difference between the current temperature changes and those that happened over 3 or 4 years at the end of the “little ice age” in the mid-1800s (surely those were not man-made)? Or by showing how the amount of emissions by humans can compare to the natural ones?

Or by comparing the energy used and release by humans to that involved in the Earth’s working on a daily basis? To understand the situation, I did some quick computations last year to find out that all energy ever generated by humans would rise the ocean temperature by hundredths if not thousandth (0.01 to 0.001) of a degree…ours is still a big planet indeed, tampering with it requires enormous quantities of energy and I am aware of little work done in planetary engineering.

My mind is open to explanations, and I can definitely talk to people saying “Beware the climate beast“. But I won’t listen to those that panic to claim that the world is ending tomorrow (or this century, or this millennium).

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  1. 2009/12/06 at 01:05

    Forget about being able to predict earthquakes. We can’t even agree on whether we want socialized medicine and can’t even bring peace to the world. We’re now supposed to believe that we can influence the weather?

    By the way, if we could influence the weather, would that necessarily be a bad thing? I mean, if we could make it rain at a moment’s whim couldn’t we give that technology to some of the dry lands in Africa, or if we could control the tides prevent huge tidal waves from crashing against the shores of Indonesia? Or keep rivers from overflowing banks in Missouri?

    It’s utterly irrational, this belief that mankind can influence the weather, or climate or whatever they’re calling it these days.

    • bikesaddle
      2009/12/06 at 23:34

      Your argument doesn’t make much sense to me. What has making rain got to do with anything? Or preventing tidal waves? Or overflowing rivers? Just because we can’t do one thing, doesn’t mean that we might not be causing another.

      Why should it be so bizarre that we are affecting our atmosphere? Is it just based on an idea that the planet is so big and we are so small that we could not possibly affect anything? We have completely altered the landscape – just look at photos of, say, Missouri, from space – and the vegetation of most continents, we have substantially altered marine ecosystems (e.g. there are no cod left in the Grand Banks). On a local level, careless agricultural policies brought ruin to the Middle West in the 1930’s and it took a pretty concerted effort, you will recall, to fix the problem.

      Of course we don’t have “control”. But we do have influence and increasing one of the two trace gases that affects the temperature on the planet by 50% can only be expected to have unintended consequences.

      Beware hubris, my friend.

  2. bikesaddle
    2009/12/04 at 10:28

    Two points.

    1. You can go and download all manner of historical data by looking here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
    where this a comprehensive set of links to major datasets, algorithms and so on from around the world. If nothing else the CRU mess has meant that people have started to put the data where others can find it.

    2. Mr Morabito. I am impressed that you have calculated that the energy released by humans is tiny compared to that involved in “natural processes”. Doh! You will find that statement in Chapter 1 of any energy, atmospheric science, or environmental textbook and I find it hard to believe that you are unaware of it. It is not, of course, thermal energy released by human processes that is responsible for warming but rather the CO2 in the atmosphere which retains a little more of the energy that pours onto the planet from the sun. This is something that has been known for 150 years ever since John Tyndall first made the suggestion. Indeed one might even argue that it was Joseph Fourier who pointed this out before the French Revolution. The presence of CO2 is precisely what makes our planet habitable, even though its concentration seems so small by comparison with that of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere. I won’t repeat the argument for how CO2 (along with water) act to trap radiant heat – you can look at Chapter 2 of Richard Wayne’s Chemistry Of Atmospheres. There is nothing there that is controversial unless you start to reject basic chemistry and physics.
    The real point is that by increasing the concentration of CO2 you change the balance between incoming and outgoing radiation. If we make a fractional reduction in the amount of energy leaving the planet and that will inevitably result in a rise in temperature. You can think of it like a bath tub with water running in from the tap and water running out through the plug. Put a small obstruction in the drain and the water level rises. Slowly but inexorably. I agree that we don’t know the timescales nor can we be sure of the magnitued of the effect but the effect is real.

    But let me say now, I sincerely hope you are right. I shall send you a bottle of vintage Krug in 20 years if this has all gone away. But if it hasn’t, things won’t look pretty. I’d rather we took action now in the hopes of not having to suffer real consequences later.

    • 2009/12/04 at 10:31

      20 years is not enough. Climate is weather averaged over 30 years and all that. Let’s meet up in the hospice in the year 2100.

  3. papertiger
    2009/11/27 at 08:03

    CFC’s was another bullshit.

    There’s a thin spot of atmosphere over the pole, but when was this not the case? Show me the picture of normal first, with the planet sporting a full head of ozone, but there is no picture of normal. Just conjecture that once upon a time a hole wasn’t there.
    Con is the operative word.

  4. boomboom
    2009/11/25 at 18:44

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091124/ap_on_re_us/climate_09_co2_off_the_charts
    “Carbon dioxide concentrations this fall are hovering at around 385 parts per million, on their way to a near-certain record high above 390 in the first half of next year, at the annual peak.

    “For the past million years we’ve never seen 390. You have to wonder what that’s going to do,” said physicist John Barnes, the observatory director.

    One leading atmospheric scientist, Stephen Schneider, sees “coin-flip odds for serious outcomes for our planet.”

  5. BobR
    2009/11/25 at 18:35

    @Joseph: Google ‘NASA GISS’

    @Maurizio
    Do you believe in the physics of gravity? Do you then doubt that the same physicists and chemists would somehow not understand the mechanisms of insolation and radiation for our planet? Or the effects of CO2? It is not that these systems are not well understood, or not well modelled; it is that they are non-linear in character, so the end point of trajectories from only slightly differing initial conditions cannot be guessed or analysed from the model components alone. The only way to assess matters is to run thousands of detailed computer integrations and compile statistics about the trajectories. This is what the IPCC people did. But the IPCC were careful and conservative and stuck to results they were /very/ certain about. Planet Earth on the other hand, is keen on taken the worst case scenario possible (it is doing this right now as I type) and extrapolating your life into a burning desert hole. Which may well be where it belongs for all I know.

  6. papertiger
    2009/11/25 at 17:01

    Well you could try Hadley Crut or NASA Giss.

    Oh wait …. was that a rhetorical question?

  7. 2009/11/25 at 16:35

    We could start answering this question by making sure everyone is talking about the same thing when they say ‘predict.’ To take your example of earthquakes: we can’t predict their timing, but we *can* predict, with a reasonable degree of certainty, where they will happen. Mostly – but not all the time – they’ll occur at or near tectonic plate joins. That’s an ‘ontological prediction’ – a claim about the way the world is – and it can really help focus resources when planning for Earthquakes. Without that knowledge, we’re left wondering where on the entire surface of the Earth the next quake will occur.

    With Earthquakes, then, we have good knowledge about boundary conditions.

    We also can’t control the weather, but we can predict into the very short distance. We can also predict what season we’re going towards, despite the fact that today may have been warmer than yesterday.

    Sadly, gotta go out now, but would love to carry on this conversation. Things aren’t quite so hopeless when it comes to prediction, attribution and uncertainty. What we need to do is come to an agreement on what the extent of our ability to predict and attribute is.

  8. Luke Warmer
    2009/11/25 at 16:32

    In case you missed it at the stoat, this is the same Sir John Houghton:

    From the first edition of Hougton’s book Global Warming – The complete guide, Chapter 8, “Why Should We be Concerned”:

    “Science and religion need to be seen as complementary ways of looking at the truth, a point made strongly by Al Gore in Earth in the Balance which lucidly discusses current environmental issues such as global warming.”

    “However, he [Gore] also points out that ‘there is now a powerful impulse in some parts of the scientific community to heal the breach between science and religion.”

    The heading of the next two sections of this chapter are “Gardeners of the Earth” and then “Partnership with God”

    The chapter is very well referenced including 8 refs to Genesis and 1 each to Romans, Mathew and John. These were not, I don’t think, peer-reviewed.

  9. Joseph in Florida
    2009/11/25 at 13:38

    Where may one go and look at raw historical temperature data? I mean, and be able to trust the source also, since recent events appear to indicate that one can not trust now discredited CRU on anything.

    For example, can one find the raw data that we get from our satellites? Are there any places where people recorded the temperatures by hand over long periods of time?

  10. greenaway
    2009/11/25 at 00:25

    It’s clear humans can have a big effect on the climate. Consider the problem of CFCs and how much our industrial production of CFCs created a hole in the ozone layer and how action to stop production stemmed the hole’s increase. Seems to me that given that, it is not so hard to understand how CO2 and other greenhouse gasses might cause global warming.

  1. 2009/12/04 at 22:34
  2. 2009/12/04 at 17:56
  3. 2009/12/04 at 14:37
  4. 2009/12/03 at 22:12
  5. 2009/12/02 at 21:00
  6. 2009/12/02 at 03:36

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