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 intelligent and rational 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

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

14 March 2009

A Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming Denier

That's me, friends and family, colleagues, Objectivists and other freedom-lovers, and, yes, you socialists who by and large see catastrophic man-made global warming as one of the best routes for the promotion of socialism and the dismantlement of capitalism.

Marc Morano of the Senate Committee for the Environment and Public Works, minority side, has just asked me if I would join the many scientists who are increasingly willing to buck the environmental hysterical and religious movement to state that we are not facing catastrophic global warming due to the ill-considered acts of man. I, being fearless, am willing and happy to do so.

Of course, I am not a climatologist, a sun-spot activity expert, an expert on the effects of ocean currents, or an expert on greenhouse gases and their effects upon the atmosphere. I am a materials physicist by training, who has long functioned as a materials scientist with broad interests across many scientific and technological fields.

I became interested in the issue of the global warming alarmism several years ago, because the reports I kept hearing about it did not present the context of our knowledge of the earth's climate history well and because it seemed that many so-called scientists were leaping to the conclusion that recent warming was largely or mostly due to man's activities without seeming to have done a thorough job of examining the natural forces effects which have long caused much more drastic changes in the earth's climate than those we have seen in recent times. I was also concerned that so much of the justification for man's role was based on complex computer models, which nonetheless did not take into account many major natural effects and which had a well-established history of being modified to produce ever-decreasing rates of temperature increases. The more I studied the issue, the more problems I found with the claims that man had suddenly become so powerful that he was dominating the natural climate forces.

I was also concerned about two other observations. One was that when people do bad science, they tend to become very angry when they are challenged. I have seen this effect time and time again. Observe which side resorts to the most vociferous name-calling and you are likely to have identified the side with the weaker argument and they know it. Of course, just because a man has written many peer-reviewed papers and is in a science department at a university does not mean that he is doing good science. Good science starts with acute and critical observations, attention to the context of one's knowledge, a rational and critical examination of factors affecting the outcome, and finally an ability to predict as-yet unobserved events or historical events about which one had no prior knowledge. Most of the scientists working on global climate issues were either working for universities or for government agencies, and these institutions have become so highly politicized, predominantly toward the left, that it is common to find scientific reasoning weaknesses whenever there is a political consequence to the scientific outcome. I saw much that was lacking in the scientific work which was backing the claim that man was causing or soon would be causing catastrophic global warming.

The other observation of concern was that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming was a perfect tool to use to make the civilized and advanced societies cut back on energy use to the point that life was going to be much more miserable for human beings. This has always been something that the socialists have been willing and happy to do to their fellow human beings. They like it so much that they develop a religious fervor whenever offered the opportunity to hurt others. This may seem paradoxical because they always say they are more motivated to help others than most people. They are so motivated in fact, that they are always very eager to use brutal force to make others do what they want. It has become clear that this use of force has become in itself very exhilerating for them, like a dopamine drug for their minds. So, when you examine who believes fervently in man-made global warming, do you find that fervor cutting across the usual political spectrum with respect to commitments to personal and economic liberties or do you find the fervor in one camp only? In this case, there is pretty much that one camp of socialists.

I have developed computer models myself for the study of materials properties. When developing and using models, it is very important to keep a clear physical picture of the aspect of reality you are modeling. It is easy to mess up your boundary conditions, which is a known problem with many of the climate models; it is easy to fall into divergent conditions such as the claims of catastrophic positive warming feedback are likely to be; and it is easy to overlook some factors of importance in a complex problem, which the global climate most certainly is. The most important checks for these problems are to apply your model to a number of available simple situations if there are any and to already observed events and see if it is consistent with those events. There may be no simple climate system for such checks, but the past is available. I observed that there was anguishingly little effort to apply the climate prediction models to past climate changes. The reason for this was that the models really only contained elements of the Big Picture of factors affecting the climate of the earth. But, even granted that, some effort could have been put into comparing the model-predicted effects with those of high CO2 atmospheric concentrations from the geological record. This is an obvious check and no one was eager to do it. This is a clear warning sign.

However, because it is their bread and butter to use the models to predict future rapid temperature increases, these predictions have been made. Every time, the models predicted too much temperature increase and had to be scaled back. Every IPCC report shows scaled back computer predictions and yet every future IPCC report shows another scale-back. Clearly, the modelers do not know what they are doing. Nonetheless, on the strength of their predictions of unacceptable man-made warming, we are to make drastic cuts in our use of the inexpensive fossil fuels and have a future of expensive electric power only when the wind blows or the sun shines. Even this is provided that enough Democrats are willing to have wind generators and acres of photovoltaic panels in their backyards or in areas inhabited by animal species.

The very fact that the CO2 effect models did not contain sufficient factors affecting the global climate to make predictions about the past increases the likelihood that many of the factors affecting feedback mechanisms are not adequately handled. That there are critical feedback mechanisms is obvious. We know for instance that as the oceans warm, more water is evaporated, which is a cooling process. We also know that as the humidity of the atmosphere increases due to warming and ocean water evaporation, there are increased possibilities for cloud formation, which is usually a cooling mechanism. There is reason to believe these effects of water are not handled adequately. I have also looked at the sinks and sources for CO2 and have found that it is unlikely that they are adequately understood as yet. One problem exists with respect to the effects of the earth's crust absorbing CO2 both to form many carbonates, carbonate hydroxides, and lamellar (layered) minerals which absorb water with high CO2 concentrations between their expanding layers as water becomes available. Increases in precipitation will lead to increases in CO2 absorbtion in many minerals.

We also know that the earth's geological record shows that it has a tendency to never get warmer than an average temperature of about 22C and that the glacial periods tend never to get cooler than an average temperature of about 12C. We are now and have been for a few thousand years in a temperature regime which is between these extremes, but the earth over the last 600 million years has tended to be at one or the other of these two extremes most of the time. We do not know why we are not at one of the extremes now and we do not know how to predict when the earth may go to one or the other in the future. We do know that man did not cause any of the previous extreme temperature conditions.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that man does not affect the weather or the climate. I am sure he does. But my evaluation is that man's affect upon the global climate is still small compared to the natural forces at work and that they are incapable of causing anything on the scale of a catastrophe. But, man can cause a catastrophe to his lifestyle and to his lifespan. An example would be the catastrophe which would be caused if Obama and the anthropogenic global warming alarmists force us to give up half of our electric generating capacity due to coal-fired power plants. This cannot be replaced by wind power and solar power by any technology yet known. It is a fool's errand to destroy half of our electricity generation capability while we have nothing to replace it with, when the reason given for doing this is to decrease the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere.

Any warming that is caused by man, is probably the cause of more good than bad. The higher CO2 concentrations in the air are certainly good for plant growth, which is good for both man and other animals. As I have pointed out before, most of the predicted warming is in the northern parts of North America, northern Europe, northern Russia, northern China, northern Japan, southern Chile, and southern Argentina, all of which would benefit from warmer temperatures in the winter and at night, which appears to be when the warming is greatest. This makes life in these areas easier for man, animals, and plants in most cases. This is not a bad outcome and it most certainly is not a catastrophe!


Real Estate Agent in Toronto said...

Couldn't agree more, very nicely said. You really don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that the global warming is just a natural cycle event that happened before many times and will happen again. There is so many explanations and proofs why this climate change is not "man-made" but yet we hear it every day, catastrophe is coming. It saddens me and sometimes I wonder how can people be so ignorant to blindly believe in such nonsense.

Take care, Julie

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Thank you, Julie.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

My name has now been added as a scientist skeptical of catastrophic man-made global warming conjectures to the Minority Report of the Senate Committee for the Environment and Public Works. I sure hope the many scientists who have recognized the bad science done by most who have claimed to see evidence for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming will be able to calm down the political arena which is trying to do humans so much harm by forcing a stop to our using energy.

Bhuvan Chand said...

Combating climate change may not be a question of who will carry the burden but could instead be a rush for the benefits, according to new economic modeling presented at “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions” hosted by the University of Copenhagen.

Contrary to current cost models for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change, a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge conclude that even very stringent reductions of can create a macroeconomic benefit, if governments go about it the right way.

“Where many current calculations get it wrong is in the assumption that more stringent measures will necessarily raise the overall cost, especially when there is substantial unemployment and underuse of capacity as there is today”, explains Terry Barker, Director of Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (4CMR), Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge and a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Congress.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Bhuvand Chand,

Thanks for pointing out this viewpoint. It is, however, just a modern version of the old idea that if a rascal breaks the baker's window, society is actually better off because the baker will spend money to replace the window and the window replacer will have income which he will spend, etc. Frederic Bastiat explained in 1850 that this was a fallacy because the net capital value was nonetheless reduced.

If we destroy the net capital value of all the coal-fired power plants, the local electric grid around them, the train coal cars, the coal mines and their equipment, and the skills of all the people currently converting coal into electricity, we come out with much less capital value, unless there is a legitimately superior capital value to be had in alternative solutions to the energy problem. If there is, then the free market will develop that alternative without governments having to resort to the use of force to make us give up our coal-fired power plant electricity.

For my part, I fully understand why wind power and solar power cannot and will not for a long time be able to compete with coal as an inexpensive and dependable source of electric power. I say this despite having a number of solar and wind power customers. I wish them well in the free market, but I do not support their receiving the advantage of government mandates and subsidies.

The recent resurgence of the long-ago discredited theories of Keynes in large part is another example of an attempt to assert the Broken Window Fallacy. He apparently favored hiring people to dig holes and then have other people fill them back up. Since the hired people are given tax money, the money received represents a drain of that capital investment in the private sector which people would otherwise have used it for.