Global Warming: Beyond Certainty

Global Warming

A spoon full of laughter

Although I believe that the process known as Global Warming is taking place, I recognize that the theory is (as of September 2006) at a stage that necessitates a scrutiny and counter scrutiny which can only benefit science. As an American, however, I envy Canadians and others in being governed by a greater pragmatism. Science loves absolute certainty; pragmatism knows well the importance of certain enough. An uncontested affirmation of Global Warming will elude posterity because its being successfully halted resembles its never having been; and devastation could as easily be attributed to the crest of some primeval cycle.

Whatever mistakes follow, I am not mistaken about the world’s need for a soft landing from its love affair with fossil fuels. There is an empty oil drum in all of our futures; pragmatic conservation offers insurance against the worst of either conclusion to this debate. Similarly our earth is troubled by soil erosion and desertification; the planting of and caring for trees would lessen these problems and—why not—also those controversial gases.

Data, Data Everywhere

  • Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, “There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth’s temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years.”

Greenhouse Effect

Atmospheric CO2 diverts radiation impinging on it from any direction. Clearly 450 million years ago CO2 levels had reached such a high level that far more radiant heat was kept out than—being in—was available to be kept in. With this regard the same data is ominous. How many eons did it take a warm earth finally—by such increase—to cool off; a cool earth to finally warm up to the present? Professor Patterson spoke of questionable effects, while presenting more convincing evidence for indelible effects.

  • Professor Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia remarks: “Changes in climate [as opposed to in weather] then can only be discerned and studied meaningfully over the longer time scales of decades to millions of years which are characteristic of geological studies.” Using thirty year averages, Dr. Dick Morgan, climatology researcher at the University of Exeter U.K., finds several areas of cooling about the globe.

Unfortunately, this preferred time scale for scientific certainty about climate is about atmospheres with scant witness to such high levels of CO2. We are all as baby seals, being comforted by those who have never heard an “Arf” of a fashion statement. Here a valid conclusion would simply notice how difficult it will be to get sufficient samples before the predicted watershed.

Yes, a thirty year average would be more reliable, but the increasing rate of greenhouse-gas effluence, combined with a greater blocking effect of each additional greenhouse molecule over its predecessor, poses a dilemma: wade towards scientific certainty about a question that does not wait upon our figuring it out or recognize that the theory cannot be tested within the paradigm of gradual, climatic change.

By the latter course we would replace the basis, years, with periods of time between equal increments in the level of worldwide, greenhouse gas-levels; associate those with interpolated temperatures from the standard data; take the last thirty (or fewer if levels have risen too drastically for interpolation) years of these new intervals as our more acceptable standard for averaging; and redo the Morgan calculations. [I consider this, my nonsense, to ring with the clarity of a blacksmith’s anvil, in comparison to that 2-bit-clarity, which is as excited with the throw as it is with the knowledge that it won’t be around when its nation-dice actually land.]

  • “While many [advocates of the theory] are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change,” explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Tim Ball. “They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies.”

Yes, things certainly are happening locally. The snows of Kilimanjaro are turning into dew; the glaciers of Greenland, into water; and the moisture in a hurricane’s path, into superchargers. By “special knowledge” is Dr. Tim Ball referring to his skill at recognizing climate change and—seeing none—inferring his current doubt as to cause? Mathematics can never infer cause from an analysis that suppresses immediate evidence of an effect that happens itself to be limited to the immediate.

The Polar Regions

At the higher temperatures predicted by the theory of Global Warming, air would pickup more moisture, and upon any approach to the poles, lose it as precipitation. This should lead to jet streams that are more robust, more erratic, more drawn towards spawned polar lows, and hence more deeply penetrating of those regions. By helping to renew ice in both Polar Regions while maintaining surface reflectivity wherever snow flakes safely land, these “white holes” (snow laden low pressure areas) should moderate the Global-Warming effect on sea level and polar amplification up to the point of a catastrophic disappearance of polar ice.

  • Dr. Wibj–rn KarlÈn, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden says: “The Antarctica has survived warm and cold events over millions of years. A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future.”

For those millions of years that the earth held back vast quantities of fossil-fuel carbon, all of this was not part of any foreseeable future.

  • Dr. KarlÈn clarifies that the ‘mass balance’ of Antarctica is positive—more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the ‘calving’ of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans.

Larsen B Collapse Size Comparison

That ice dome took millions of years to form inch by semi-annual inch over a desert that covers most of Antarctica. There is more precipitation along the coast, but then we must look at a renewing, coastal cylinder—not the distant, insufficient flow from a dome of ice. Calculations for the claimed amounts of accumulation are difficult and being already perplexed by remarks of Dr. KarlÈn, I am unprepared to presume that those difficulties were overcome.

  • Karl Èn explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. “For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years,” says Karl Èn.

Much of the ice sought by polar bears has melted, perhaps from a warming gradient that seems to have superimposed itself upon Igor Polyakov et al.’s later, 2004, cyclical water temperatures (http://www.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu/~igor/research/aw/index.php).

Relative to air, water delivers and receives heat very quickly and at some temperature its effect upon ice would be considerable. Water temperatures preceding those charted by Polyakov et al. 2004 lacked scope, instrumentation, or inferential device. Conceivably the recorded 1930’s highs were—until the 1990’s—also million year highs; and waters currently contacting Arctic ice surpass the above mentioned temperature.

Wrapping up

I find the correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration, as derived from ice cores and presented in the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to be unscathed by its critics. There will always be those who doubt this point; and even a posterity born into the bitter fruits of this denial could hardly be expected to piece together the enormity of what had been lost.

In the Canadian Free press article, Scientists respond to Gore’s Warnings of Climate Catastrophe (http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm ), Tom Harris presented a survey of leading experts who disagree with the theory behind Global Warming. Much of the scrutiny contained herein came from that article, including the following wrap up by Tom Harris himself:

  • In April sixty of the world’s leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what’s at stake – either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents – it seems like a reasonable request.”

 Appended

Here are left out responses to decade old readings, including at least one from William Kininmonth’s well presented Unmasking “An Inconvenient Truth.” I’d like another go at him, especially before the even less convenient truth, but for now:

Consider early, astronomically impelled cycles. Were their warm periods too brief to clear tundras from the arctic, or crystallized methane from ocean bottomscapes?

Consider ice-age ice cores, replete with CO2. Were they from an age which had avoided global warming, or a been there done that age: one that had set loose methane from the tundras and bottomscapes? And had generated an exclusion rather than an inclusion, thermal blanket: an exclusion that would have been unbearable to who or what had died through it?

One response to “Global Warming: Beyond Certainty

  1. Pingback: Mister In Between | Falling off a Twig

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