Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

13 March 2008

Another Call for Energy Cut-off

Once again a couple of computer climate modeling groups have reached a Sky Is Falling conclusion that the generation of further carbon dioxide will have drastic long-term warming effects on the environment. A modeler named Schmittner, the lead author of a 14 February article in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles and an Oregon State University professor, said that the Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 if we do nothing to greatly limit carbon dioxide emissions. He says that if we do not limit them to zero until 2300, the temperature will rise by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Wow!!!! This would be alarming.

This computer model was run to make predictions 2,000 years into the future. However, did this same model receive the obvious test that should be made on any such model? Did they apply it to a starting time of 2,000 years ago and see if it accurately predicted the climate from then until now? Well, no. None of the models we hear so much about are ever tested in this way, or if they are, the results are not reported. This tells us all these modelers are playing games, rather than trying to seriously address reality. What is more, many of them are clearly drawn to these games for their ability to gain them attention when the model outcome is some drastic event. This gains them publicity and funding for more playing.

I just read how this work was reported by the Washington Post here. The only word of caution in considering these studies was given by Brian O'Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research who allowed that there were some uncertainties about the strength of the natural carbon cycle and the dynamics of ocean warming, which would affect the accuracy of the modeling predictions. Ha!!!! That really takes the cake. With even the smallest uncertainties, 2000 year predictions of climate are extremely dubious. These papers claim that natural cycles remove about 1/2 of the human CO2 emissions within a hundred years. I suspect that this occurs much faster than this. For one thing, as minerals become more hydrated, as they will with warming, they commonly soak up large amounts of CO2. I do not believe any of the computer models include this effect in their algorithms. I also do not think that the issues relating to the huge heat capacity differences between the oceans and the atmosphere are properly dealt with. These modelers are usually much better computer programmers than they are scientists.

There are repeated calls for drastic reductions in carbon output mentioned in the Washington Post article. What they really mean is carbon dioxide output, since all of the carbon was really there ahead of any action by man. The article notes that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change called on industrialized nations to cut their emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050. The world as a whole was told to cut emissions by 50 to 80%. The Senate is poised to vote in June to reduce U.S. emissions by 70% by 2050. Hillary R. Clinton and Barack H. Obama are calling for an 80% reduction. John McCain wants a 60% reduction. I hope you are thinking about how this will change your lifestyle and that of your children.

Now if the temperature of the Earth actually were to increase by 15 degrees Fahrenheit, this would be a bad thing, but in the last 600 million years, the planet has more often been 15 degrees or more warmer than it has been as cool as it is now. These modelers have made some serious errors. First, adding CO2 to the atmosphere starting at very low concentrations causes the temperature to increase fairly rapidly. But, by the time the concentration is what it is now, which actually is very low compared to the average of the past 550 million years when man made no contributions, the effect of adding more CO2 in increasing the temperature is very low. There is another problem: It is very difficult to cause a temperature increase in the tropics because of the cooling effect of increased water evaporation as the temperature is increased and because of the increased cloud cover that results. For the same reason, it will be very difficult to increase the temperature in the temperate zones by 15 degrees with man's limited means, which would make them much more like the tropical zones. Now, water evaporated in the tropics adds to cloud cover in the other parts of the world. Under the drastic warming conditions predicted in these computer models, the whole world would be producing much more water vapor and cloud cover. The surface of the earth would see much less direct sunlight and the cooling will be great.

The modelers commonly think that the addition of CO2 to the atmosphere caused the temperature increase from 1975 to 2001, but most of that increase was really caused by an increase in radiation from the sun. Richard Willson of Columbia University and NASA, reported that the sun's radiation increased by 0.05% each decade from 1978 to 2003. The research I discussed in my last note further shows that the temperature of the earth is dominated by the sun. Yet groups such as these modelers believe the temperature increase from 1975 to 2001 was caused by CO2 increases, so they are overestimating the effects of CO2. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased smoothly since 1850 and some of that is because the earth is warming after the Little Ice Age ended. CO2 is emitted by the oceans, which hold vast amounts of dissolved CO2, as the oceans warm. Some of additional CO2 increase is due to man. However, we must not forget that in some Ice Ages, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 16 times what it is now! One would think that would stop an Ice Age in its tracks if CO2 has the ability to increase temperature as these computer models predict! There is much evidence that these computer modelers overestimate the effects of CO2 in the atmosphere over and over. They have a long history now of having to reduce the size of earlier predicted temperature increases.

This brings up another interesting issue. We might actually want to warm the planet with CO2 emissions if that could be done without too much effort! Why??? The last major Ice Age ended about 11,000 years ago. All of human civilization and almost all of our development of knowledge has occurred in the more human-friendly conditions since then. There are now 6.8 billion people on Earth. How many of these people would survive even 100s of years into the next Ice Age? Why should you think about that? Because in the last 400,000 years the human-friendly warm periods commonly last about 10,000 years and the Ice Ages last about 70,000 to 90,000 years. Since we are at 11,000 years and the 2,000 year prediction of the computer model discussed above would put us at 13,000 years, we might very well be looking for all the warmth we can find then.

The climate of the Earth is critically important to man and his future. We should make a very concerted effort to understand it. That starts by being willing to critically observe the earth's history of climate change. It also means that we examine theories effecting the climate with an objective evaluation, rather than a religious zeal often borne of a bias against man's activities. We need to remember that the reason the Earth's climate is important is because the quality of man's life is dependent upon it. If we act in a panic to lower the quality of man's life without a sound knowledge of the complex issues affecting the climate, we are actually more likely to do harm than to do good.

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