B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Duke University, U.S.A.
M.A. Environmental Biology, University of Colorado, U.S.A.
Most of us try to live our lives without controversy and according to our particular beliefs and regional traditions. We try to be happy and productive, and we try to surround ourselves with special family, friends, and associates. Sometimes, we scan the news and integrate the day’s pertinent information into our data base of knowledge and belief systems. In so doing, we expect the news to be accurate and informative, and sometimes, even thought-provoking or funny.
What we don’t expect is a lie, or a concerted effort to mislead or conjure, for the sake of a hidden agenda or nefarious end game. Unfortunately, we have been treated to just that by the international media’s global warming coverage and hysteria, as well as the resultant implications for our way of life. To imply that recent warming is caused by human activities and specifically, CO2 production, is an inconvenient fib, a misinterpretation of most scientific data, and a suspension of common sense!
Do CO2 Concentration Levels actually cause Temperature Changes?
The main premise of the human-caused, global warming is that greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act like a greenhouse cover and contain surface heat and cause additional warming. The initial research was done by Arrhenius (1896) on the relationship between temperature and carbonic acid, or H2CO3, which is a molecule made of H2O and CO2. Additional research has been done in recent decades and has helped fuel the debate about the influence of humans on climate.
The greenhouse gases themselves include mostly water vapor, and tiny amounts of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and other gaseous molecules. The greenhouse theory implies that an increase in CO2 will cause an associated increase in surface temperatures. However, such reasoning does not match the last 400,000 years of interpretative data from the Vostok ice cores in Antarctica. This data represents four inter-glacial periods, where the periodic increases in temperature preceded the increases in CO2 concentration by 400 to 4,000 years! (Monckton, 2006). Stated differently, it means that historical climate data show temperature increases came first, followed by CO2 increases second, not the other way around…
Figure 1: UN Environment Programme/ GRID-Arendal, Petit et al. (1999)
What Impact do Humans have on Greenhouse Gases?
All recent global warming has been occurring for approximately 18,000 years, which was the beginning of the most recent, interglacial period. Such warming periods last 15,000 to 20,000 years, whereas the colder glacial periods last 80,000-to-85,000 years, reflecting a total cycle of approximately 100,000 years. Since the recent warming period began, the advance of the world’s 160,000+ glaciers was halted around 15,000 years ago. In addition, the ice pack on the land bridge between Asia and the Americas slowly melted and was covered with sea water around 8,000 years ago.
Since the beginning of the recent global warming period, the Earth’s temperatures have risen about 16° F and sea levels have risen about 300 feet! (Hieb, 2007) More importantly, we now have forests, open woodlands, prairies, and tillable land, where we once had ice! Global Warming has been a good thing, and it is still shielding us from the Next Ice Age, which could be closer than we think!
Global Warming has been occurring for 18,000 years, and it is unlikely that humans have had anything to do with it, even though more recent industrial activities have resulted in pollution to the land, water, and air. However, the air pollution from these sources is insignificant in terms of the total contributions to greenhouse gases.
The most significant greenhouse gas is natural water vapor and traces of other gases, which make up approximately 99.72% of all greenhouse gases (Hieb, 2007).
Humans contribute the remaining 0.28% of greenhouse gases, representing about 0.117% from CO2 production and 0.163% from the production of methane, nitrous oxide, and other miscellaneous gases (Hieb, 2007). Therefore, controlling greenhouse gas emissions in the form of CO2 would be irrelevant and preposterous! In fact, the production of CO2 is essential for the production of plants on land and phytoplankton in the seas; and both are essential for the production of oxygen, without which, there would be very limited possibilities for continued life on Earth!
When annual CO2 contributions are considered by themselves, it is believed that 186 million tons are added to the atmosphere each year. The oceans are believed to contribute about ½, or 90 million tons, while biological respiration and decay are believed to add another ½, or 90 million tons. The balance of 6 million tons is contributed by human activities, representing 3.2 % of annual CO2 contributions (Hieb, 2007). However, as stated above, this human input of CO2 still only represents less than 0.3% of all greenhouse gases present, which is still an insignificant amount.
Is the Current Decade the Warmest Period in the last 1,000 years?
Scientific data show that the warmest period of the last 1,000 years was the Medieval Warm Period. It lasted for several hundred years, beginning between 800 and 950 AD and lasting to between 1,300 and 1,450 AD (Monckton, 2006 and Soon & Baliunas, 2003). Early in that period, in 983 AD, Erik the Red sailed from Iceland with 25 boats and hundreds of people to establish the first colony on a large land mass, he called Greenland. Starting with about 450 people, they quickly set up farms, churches, and two main settlements, where their numbers are believed to have grown to 3,000 people. During that time, Greenland was actually green, and the Danish people remained until around 1425 AD (Richardson, 2000), as the Little Ice Age was beginning to exert its chilling effects. The remains of those settlements still exist under the ice, so how can the world be warmer today than it was back then?
Figure 2: Example of regional variations in surface air temperature for the last 1000 years, estimated from a variety of sources, including temperature-sensitive tree growth indices and written records of various kinds, largely from Western Europe and Eastern North America. Shown are changes in regional temperature in° </°>C, from the baseline value for 1900. Compiled by R. S. Bradley and J. A. Eddy, based on J. T. Houghton et al., 1990 and 1991.
What is the problem with temperature data?
Jones and associates (2001) conducted studies to estimate average global temperatures between 1861 and 2000. Most of the reliable data collection occurred in the U.S., followed by Europe and other industrialized areas, then by collections in more rural areas. Although weather stations were established all over the world, many of the earlier measurements occurred closer to major population centers, for practical reasons; and they were not evenly distributed across all land surfaces and throughout all ecosystem types. In addition, the number of world-wide weather stations has fallen from about 5,000 to 2,000 in the last 50 years, reducing the number of surface data points even further (Monckton, 2006). Additional complications have occurred from the “heat island effect” in urban weather stations, where a localized increase in temperature occurs on urban surfaces and radiates into the surrounding air (Crichton, 2004, Monckton, 2006).
Furthermore, the world’s oceans, which cover approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, were not adequately sampled either. More importantly, the testing was conducted in buckets of seawater with a thermometer, prior to 1940, and afterwards, in the intake of cooling water flowing through a nautical engine. The resultant change in methodology has required adjustments in the data, which further complicate assumptions about surface ocean temperatures during those time periods (Soon & Baliunas, 2008).
Jones and associates (2001) have tried to resolve these sampling differences and irregularities, and they concluded that the Earth’s surface temperatures varied between 1861 and 1910, warmed between 1910 and 1940, cooled between 1940 and 1975, and warmed again between 1975 and 2000 (Carter & Soon, 2008; Spencer, 2008). Concurrent with these more recent trends, CO2 concentrations were flat during the temperature increase between 1910 and 1940’s; while CO2 concentrations increased between 1940 and the late 1970’s, when temperatures were cooling (Carter & Soon, 2008, http://theclimatebet.com/category/willie-soon/). These temperature and CO2 trends are opposite to the theory of human-caused global warming, and they invalidate their central premise.
Figure 3: Globally averaged temperature variations between 1850 and 2007 show the emergence from the “Little Ice Age” in the early 1900’s, slight cooling from the 1940’s to the 1970’s, and then warming again since the 1970’s. (HadCRUT3 temperature dataset from the UK Met Office and Univ. of E. Anglia, and Roy Spencer, 2008)
Why was the famous “hockey stick” temperature curve wrong?
Most all of us in the engineering and science fields know the old phrase, “garbage in, garbage out!” Well, that is what apparently happened with the research of Mann et al. (1998), which first appeared in Nature Magazine and later, in Geophysical Research letters (Mann et al., 1999). This research incorrectly showed the temperature graph of the last 1,000 years as a slightly ascending line that dramatically increased its ascent, or pitch, in modern industrial times. It completed omitted the warmer, Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age, which should have been a “red flag” for the editorial and peer-review boards, including the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Apparently, there were other reasons for using the erroneous temperature curve, rather than scientific accuracy!
While the reasons for promoting their agenda are obvious, it took some smart scientists to elucidate the fallacy in the research of Mann and associates. They were the McIntyre team (2003), which determined that the “garbage” output of their computer simulation was based on the input of inappropriate data, or “garbage in,” as well as the use of inappropriate statistical protocols. When the McIntyre team used the same mathematical formula, or algorithm, they could replicate the “garbage output,” using the original “garbage input.” In addition, they could achieve “hockey stick” temperature curve by using random “red noise,” or numbers. However, when McIntyre’s team took out the inappropriate index for temperature change used by Mann and associates, Bristlecone Pine data, the more-accurate curve appeared, reflecting 1,000 years of temperature change (Monckton, 2006).
What was the Status of the Arctic during the Medieval Warm Period?
As Monckton (2006) points out, research from several scientists indicate that the Medieval Warm Period was up to 3°C, or 6°F, warmer than the temperatures of today (Villalba, 1990, 1994; and Soon and Baliunas, 2003). Ships were sailing on the edges of the Arctic seas from Erik the Red’s time period, and by 1,000 AD they were sailing into parts of the Arctic Ocean that are now under a permanent ice pack. Furthermore, by 1421 AD it was reported that the Chinese Imperial Navy sailed across the Arctic Ocean during the summer, and found no significant ice along their lengthy voyage (Monckton, 2006).
What about the fate of the Polar Bears?
The polar bears survived during the Medieval Warm Period, which is believed to be 6ºF warmer than today’s temperatures. The remains of the bears were even used by the Greenlanders as trading items with the Europeans during the time of the early settlements (Richardson, 2000). Sometimes, Greenlanders traded both bear and fox furs, and on occasion, even live polar bears. Today, the offspring of those polar bears are flourishing, according to the Inuit Natives, with their population numbers estimated to range from 20,000 to 25,000. Unfortunately, well-intentioned environmentalists from the Center for Biological Diversity are petitioning the U.S. government to list them as a Threatened Species, under the Endangered Species Act. This action is intended to protect the Polar Bears from Global Warming, even though they are currently prospering, and their numbers have increased from a population of around 5,000 in 1972 to up to 25,000 today (Dorell, 2008).
What about the impact on Ocean Levels?
Sea level changes occur during the interglacial periods, such as now, when warmer air temperatures cause the glaciers to melt and the sea to expand. Scientists believe that about ½ of the sea level increases are caused by the melting glaciers and ½ by the thermal expansion of the oceans. However, it is unlikely that sea levels have risen significantly in the last 30 years, because the vast majority of the world’s glaciers are expanding, not shrinking!
About 160,000 glaciers exist on the planet, with 90% of them in Antarctica and 4% in Greenland. And while glaciers in Europe and North America have been shrinking, the big ones in Greenland and Antarctica have been receiving more precipitation and have been expanding for the last 30 years (Monckton, 2006). Even though big chunks of ice have been breaking up on the Antarctic peninsula, due to localized warming, the sea ice has been expanding and the sea-ice season is now three weeks longer than it was in 1979 (Thompson et al., 2002; Liu et al., 2004).
If the conditions on the high plateaus of Antarctica and Greenland continue, it is unlikely that the world will experience increased sea levels. In addition, if the trend does continue, we might be headed in the other direction, which would not be a good thing for most of us, unless we like long winters, lots of ice, tons of snow, and cold climates!
What does the Scientific Data Imply for Climate Change?
First of all, it is quite apparent from the Vostok ice cores that CO2 changes are caused by, or follow, temperature changes, and not the other way around. Further, the amount of CO2 produced by humans represents less than 0.3% of the total mix of greenhouse gases, so any changes we make to our CO2 output is irrelevant and would not significantly affect the total mix of greenhouse gases.
This means we can continue to breathe out CO2 and not worry about contributing to global warming! It also means that the Kyoto Treaty is an international attempt to tax and control the world’s industrial nations by redistributing their wealth and ratcheting down the technological character of their countries.
What can we do about it?
A first step is to raise the consciousness of private citizens, elected representatives, corporations, the media, and public officials, regarding the erroneous information that we are being bombarded with on a daily basis. We should be making our strategic decisions, based on scientific facts, tempered by common sense and good judgment, and not by political agendas with hidden themes that most of us would never agree to or embrace.
In this regard, Lord Monckton (2008) is suggesting that we raise approximately $2 million (U.S.) to produce a scientifically-accurate, alternative to Al Gore’s video, “An Inconvenient Truth,” to be made available to individuals, the media, schools, corporations, and governments. Such a video could provide balance and proper scientific discussion and discovery, in light of the hysteria and incorrect assumptions being made from Al Gore’s video.
Lord Monckton (2008) also assisted Kent school governor Stewart Dimmock, who brought Al Gore’s documentary to court in the U.K., in order to correct the scientific basis for claiming that humans cause global warming. Their effort was a success, and Justice Burton found: 1) Gore’s video was “alarmist and exaggerated;” 2) the video contained nine (9) scientific errors; and 3) he required new guidance notes to accompany the showing of Gore’s video in secondary schools, in order to balance Mr. Gore’s partisan views (Evening Standard, 2007). http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23416151-details/Judge+attacks+nine+errors+in+Al+Gore’s+’alarmist’+climate+change+film/article.do
We also need to do everything we can to reduce our pollution and to recycle our valuable resources. Being good stewards of our world and living in harmony with our environment is still an important guiding principle for our lives. We also need to implement those alternative technologies that use non-polluting energy sources, including those that use wind and solar, as well as those that use magnetic solutions and other sophisticated technologies. These alternative power systems can help bring energy to all nations, communities, and individuals, and reduce our dependence on lubricants, like oil, which are being burned for fuel (See the research program of Dr. Steven Greer and associates, the Orion Project, www.TheOrionProject.org )
Arrhenius, S. 1896. On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground. Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, 41: 237-276.
Crichton, Michael, 2004. State of Fear, Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y., USA, 672 p.
Dorell, Oren. 2008. Polar Bears caught in a heated eco-debate. USA Today, Nation, p.2A.
Hieb, Monte. 2007. Global Warming: A Chilling Perspective. Plant Fossils of West Virginia, http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html
Jones, P.D., et al., 2001. Adjusting for sampling density in grid box land and ocean surface temperature time series, Journal of Geophysical Research, 106:3371-3380.
J.T. Houghton et al., 1990. Climate Change: The IPCC Assessment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
J.T. Houghton et al., 1991. Climate Change: The IPCC Assessment. Earth Quest, vol. 5, no. 1.
Lamb, H. H. 1972a. Climate: Present, Past and Future. 3 volumes, Methuen, London, 1972.
Lamb, H. H. 1972b. Weather, Climate and Human Affairs: A Book of Essays and other Papers, Routledge, London, 1972.
Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K. 1998. Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries. Nature 392: 779-787
.Mann, M.E., Bradley, R.S. and Hughes, M.K. 1999. Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations. Geophysical Research Letters 26: 759-762.
McIntyre et al. 2003. Corrections to the Mann et. al. (1998) proxy database and Northern Hemisphere average temperature series. Environment and Energy 14: pp. 751-771.
Monckton, 2006. Apocalypse Canceled, Sunday Telegraph, 5 November 2006. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2006/11/05/warm-refs.pdf
Monckton, 2008. Glenn talks with Lord Monckton. The Glenn Beck Program, Interviews, March 4, 2008. http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/196/6783/
Petit, J.R.; J. Jouzel, et. al. 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420 000 years from the Vostok ice core in Antarctica. Nature 399 (3 June), pp 429-436.
Richardson, Sarah, 2000. Vanished Vikings – Erik the Red’s Greenland colonies, Discover Magazine, March 2000. http://discovermagazine.com/2000/mar/featvanished
Spencer, Roy, 2008. Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor, Encounter Books, 150 p.
Soon, Willie; and Baliunas, Sallie, 2003. Lessons & Limits of Climate History: Was the 20th Century Climate Unusual? George C. Marshall Institute, 32 p.
Villalba, R., 1990. Climatic Fluctuations in Northern Patagonia during the last 1000 Years as Inferred from Tree-ring Records. Quarterly Research, 34: 346–360.
Villalba, R., 1994. Tree-ring and Glacial Evidence for the Medieval Warm Epoch and the Little Ice Age in Southern South America. Climate Change 26: 183–197.