Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Global Warming - The Truth

This post was originally a comment left by me at Mark Gamon's excellent blog. Since then, I've revised my figures (I was working of the top of my head) and done some more reading. But the gist is identical.

Global Warming - the Wikipedia article. You know what, regarding global warming, and I hate to agree with idiots like George W and non-scientific capitalists like the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) (a summary of their position is here), but people who refuse to spend a fortune in reducing carbon emissions are actually doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Kyoto is nothing to do with Greenhouse gases, and everything to do with reducing hydrocarbon dependency, and almost every climate scientist, geologist, government advisor and president knows it (they have been told the truth). However, the "pee-pul" haven't been getting the message about them forcing companies to find alternatives to oil by-products. So, they invent this propaganda (a big fat lie that they can easily fool the public with) that man made CO2 is the significant cause of global warming. It isn't.

Image from Wikipedia Article linked to below on Milankovitch Cycles

ALL CO2 contributes to (although does not, in itself, cause global warming, and it would happen anyway, about now, whether we were on this planet or not. Anthropogenic (man made) CO2 emissions consist of only 6% of the total put into the atmosphere. The rest is from volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, natural plant processes and rotting vegetable matter, all of which would occur whether humans were on the planet or not. Even the best case scenario of the much-trumpeted (but poorly understood) Kyoto Treaty is to delay an (agreed) inevitable temperature rise by 30 years - not much in the 4,600,000,000 years of the Earth's history - and certainly not the best way to spend billions of pounds more on "carbon efficiency" than anti-poverty. One unexpected volcano eruption puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than the USA has done in the last 100 years! The reason why the planet is heating up is simple - the last ice age hasn't ended yet.

When news reporters say that "CO2 emissions are causing the greenhouse effect", "the icecaps are melting" and "global warming is a serious reality", they are absolutely correct. But a lot of the temperature rise being experienced is to do with the fact that the Earth does not orbit around the sun at exactly the same distance every year - over a geologically short (but in human terms, very long) timescale this distance fluctuates with 3 very distinct periodicities, measured in tens of thousands of years. Because of these variations (called Milankovitch Cycles ) the glaciers that formed Glen Coe have retreated (which was nowt to do with any caveman) and the glaciers in the Norwegian fjords are still retreating, which is nowt to do with us. When the ice caps have completely melted, and the most recent (of about 40) ice ages has then ended, in about 40,000 years time, the next Milankovitch Cycle will start, and in about 100,000 years, France will be covered in an ice sheet.

As an aside, global warming will cause the UK (on the same Latitude as Newfoundland and Moscow) to be much MUCH colder, not warmer, as the Gulf Stream will be disrupted - even if the Earth's temperature rises by a few degrees Celsius on average. Another little appreciated fact is that if the entire Arctic icecap melts, the sea level will not rise by so much as a millimetre, as that ice floats on water, and displaces its own mass, by volume. Antarctic ice, on a continental landmass, is a different matter.

So, to summarise, human beings had nothing to do with the previous 39 ice ages, or the ones before that, and have precious little to do with this one (either its beginning, or its end). Therefore IMHO, the best way to spend countless billions is not for politicians and single-issue green loonies (who know perfectly well the truth) to spout endless bollocks about carbon-trading and CO2 emissions, but to divert the same sum into urgent R&D into sustainable energy and sustainable raw materials for when the oil runs out. THAT scares me.

EDIT: All the above opinion is mine alone. I have no axe to grind and am not in the pay of anyone who has any agenda whatsoever, and my conclusions are drawn from 4 years at a prestigious university studying this very phenomenon. There is, as Wyndham points out in his comment, stacks of arguments on both sides, but my point is that I NEVER see a balanced opinion from an unbiased source. Just as we would discount Esso's Chief Scientist telling us that oil usage doesn't cause CO2 emissions, we should also discount scientists working for enormous ecocharities financially dependent on tactics that result from scare tactics. One famous account (which I've never read, to my shame) of all the arguments is Bjorn Lomborg's "The Sceptical Environmentalist" , but there are many many others out there from people such as James Lovelock, David Bellamy and various non-partisan institutions.

Just ask yourself, if you disagree with me, who told you? And who told them? And in that chain, how many of them have taken the trouble to look at undisputed primary scientific data? I have, and I was amazed.

9 Rants & Replies:

Blogger Wyndham said...

Merkin, check out Wikipedia for a lovely precise of all the accusations against Lomborg, described as "seriously flawed and fail[ing] to meet basic standards of credible scientific analysis". Lomborg is a discredited figure. I can't believe people still peddle this stuff. we can go back and forth but there's a landslide of evidence on both sides. It's just a questions of who's paying for the stats.

10:35 am, February 22, 2006

Blogger Inexplicable DeVice said...

A captivating point (no sarcasm intended).

And seeing as how I can't do/say anything without injecting a little frivolousness, I'm off to drive my car just for the Hell of it!

3:25 pm, February 22, 2006

Blogger Merkin said...

Noted that Lomborg has his detractors, but look at who they are (the ones that admit it anyway - ANYONE can contribute to Wikipedia, after all) - directors of mega-green charities, directors of climate change QUANGOs, scientists employed by those same charities and public bodies.

Although by no means an expert, I studied this subject for 4 years at university and unlike any other of the commentators, I do not have any vested interests either way. I started out assuming that the newspapers were telling "fact", but when I looked into it, I couldn't find any published scientific data that said that the tiny proportion of CO2 that humans produce affected global warming more than the 94% produced by natural processes. All the info in my post about figures, glacial events, Milankovitch Cycles and CO2 emissions are undisputed by anyone, it's just the conclusions that I find baffling.

Overall, why do people think manmade CO2 causes climate change? Because the BBC and Labour government tells them it does. I'm all for reducing carbon emissions, as it is the end result of the all-too-necessary reduction in fossil fuel reliance. But telling me that it's to stop global warming? That is unmitigated bollocks, and the powers that be know it. Only the USA is honest enough to say so.

3:31 pm, February 22, 2006

Blogger Wyndham said...

Okay, don't just take Wikipedia's word for it. Just Google Lomberg, in general, you'll find a groundswell of evidence that he's talking bollocks, and also plenty of evidence to suggest that we have affected global-warming. If you're going to quote research then quote a little wider. Keep digging up your research and I'll tell you who financed it. I too have researched a little on this subject and it sent a chill down even my cynical spine. But then, I work for the BBC, so I must be a leftie environmentalist. Right?

7:45 pm, February 22, 2006

Blogger Boofykatz said...

Hey, we are all leftie environmentalists here;but maybe those of us without fat BBC salaries care about evidence. And you won't find a groundswell of evidence, you will find a groundswell (whatever media mediated shite that might be) of opinion. Let's just deal with gulf stream diversion and divest any property interests we might have in East Anglia.

12:15 am, February 25, 2006

Blogger Tickersoid said...

If only 6% of co2 emmissions are man made, and political swell, were it to materialise, could only influence 25% of that. I don't suppose we can make any significant difference if we wanted to. It all seems a bit academic.

I'm with Jeremy Clarkson, mainly because it suits me.

1:59 pm, February 27, 2006

Blogger Wyndham said...

Fat BBC salary. Yeah, right.

9:09 pm, February 27, 2006

Blogger Mark Gamon said...

Let me see.

1/ Global warming may or may not be happening. If it is, we need to reduce CO2 emissions or we'll all die of bad weather and rising sea levels.

2/ Oil is running out. Doesn't seem to be too much argument about that. If we recognise this, and develop sustainable technologies that allow us to use less oil, then coincidentally we'll also reduce CO2 emissions. Which might be good for the global warming situation. If it exists.

3/ If we don't develop sustainable technologies that allow us to use less oil, we'll spend the next half century slaughtering each other over the remaining reserves (see Iraq).

Maybe I'm missing something here. Why are we bickering about this?

9:08 am, March 01, 2006

Blogger Merkin said...

Mark - you're absolutely correct on points 2 and 3. And no-one disputes that global warming IS happening. It's just that it's not our fault, and there's nothing we can do about it. So let's spend all our money lifting people out of poverty, finding non-fossil fuel alternatives and preparing for the sea level rises, not trying to halt the inevitable.

2:48 pm, March 01, 2006


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