Global warming has been the crisis of the last few decades. After a period of global cooling in the min 20th Century, the Century as a whole saw a global temperature rise between 1-1.4°F. Over the same time the volume of greenhouse gasses (Carbon Dioxide and Methane amongst others) increased to 389 parts per million against a background fluctuation between 180-300ppm in the previous 650,000 years.
Climate change proponents such as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) believe that the rise in greenhouse gasses comes from human activities. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere – at the same time the reduction in forested land through logging or clearing for agriculture results in a loss of the natural carbon sink (trees absorb Carbon Dioxide). Man made global warming – they would have us believe – will be single handedly responsible for rising sea levels, melting glaciers, species extinction and any severe weather from tornadoes to ice-storms.
This view, supported by the mainstream media, has become the orthodox belief. Only a few scientists now admit to being sceptical about man’s role in global warming. Is the orthodoxy right? Here are the Top 10 Reasons Humans Are Not Causing Global Warming…
10. Global Warming Is Big Business
In the 10 years to 2009 the US Federal Government allocated $25bn to research on climate change. In 2013 the EU announced that at least 20% of its budget for 2014-20 would be spent on climate issues. Climate science has become politicized which has had the unfortunate effect of shutting down debate on the issue. Scientists who want research money and the respect of their peers must agree with global warming or loose their grant funding.
Al Gore famously said that ‘the science is settled’. Science is, however, never settled, there is always something more to learn. To assume that science on any one particular issue has gone as far as it can when grants are one sided and debate is shut down is both arrogant and dangerous.
9. There Have Been Warm Periods In The Past
Anecdotally we know that there have been times in the past when it was warmer. In mediaeval times it was so warm (approximately 1.8°F warmer than today) that Vikings were able to colonize and live in Greenland and even travel to the Americas. This Mediaeval Warm Period, as it is known, occurred at a time when the human contribution to greenhouse gasses was negligible (burning fires was about the only fossil fuel activity). Scientists have studied ‘proxy’ data such as tree ring samples or ocean cores to establish that this mediaeval warming did, in fact, take place. If there have been warm periods in the past it must surely be a fallacy to suggest that the global warming (if it exists) of the last few decades is down to human agency.
8. There Have Been Cold Periods In The Past
At the end of the Mediaeval Warm Period the earth experienced a period of prolonged cooling that has been colloquially termed the Little Ice Age. The Thames in London froze regularly between 1607 and 1814, the Golden Horn and part of the Bosporus in 1622 and New York Harbor in 1870. The Vikings left Greenland by the 15th Century, the cold making their way of life impossible. While the IPCC has said that they doubt the Little Ice Age was a global phenomenon and was limited to the Northern Hemisphere only, recent research has shown corresponding cold periods in the Southern Hemisphere. The Little Ice Age came to an end around 1900, it is not, therefore, surprising that global temperatures have risen. There is no reason to assume that they are connected with human activity.
7. Temperatures Today Are Not Unusual
Following on from points 9 and 8 you can see that there is a large natural fluctuation in world temperatures. Research using multiple different proxies for temperature (tree rings, boreholes, ocean sediment samples) has shown that temperatures in the past have varied more than previously thought – particularly when compared to research that used a single proxy. Temperatures today sit well within the temperature variations shown to have existed over the last 2,000 years before humans started to use fossil fuels.
6. Oceans Are Getting Colder
The apparent correlation between an increase in temperature and an increase in Carbon Dioxide levels meant that it was easy to assume that man is responsible for global warming. As such much of the research on global warming has been designed to investigate this with comparatively little invested in research on potential natural causes. However, correlation is not causation – just because something looks like it is related it does not mean it is.
In 2008 it was shown that both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will be ‘cold’ for at least the next decade. Oceans go through periods when they are warm and when they are cold. Because they cover so much of the surface of the Earth (70%) what happens to the oceans has a big impact on global temperatures.
Ocean currents are powerful forces -the warm and cool periods of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (a change in atmosphere and ocean currents in the Pacific) seem to coincide with warm and cool periods over the last 100 years. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation has been shown to be responsible for the warming and cooling periods experienced in the Arctic over a similar timescale (warm from 1910-40 and 70-2008 with a cool period in-between). NOAA has stated that changing weather patterns such as the rise in severe hurricanes like Katrina is down to changes in ocean currents and not global warming.
5. Water Vapor Not Carbon Dioxide Is The Atmosphere’s Most Plentiful Greenhouse Gas
Carbon Dioxide and Methane are not the only greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere – they are not even the most abundant (although they are the ones that have increased most dramatically over the past decades).
Water vapor is also a greenhouse gas and is released into the atmosphere by natural not man made processes. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere decreased after the year 2000 (which coincided with a stall in global warming. Figures show an increase in atmospheric water vapor in the final two decades of the last century which correlates to a period of warming. Indeed water vapor has been shown to be responsible for 30% of the temperature increase over that time. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is driven by natural oceanic processes.
Even a doubling of human created greenhouse gasses would have only a negligible impact on temperature increase (less than 10% of that predicted by models). This is because the models assume a positive feedback (ie as human created greenhouse gasses increase water vapor will increase) when instead observations show a decrease in water vapor.
4. Higher Concentrations Of Carbon Dioxide Are Not Unknown In The Past And The Earth Has Developed Mechanisms To Cope With It
As global temperatures increase carbon stores such as forests or the ocean release Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. In depth analysis of ice-core samples show that increases in Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere increased markedly after an increase in global temperature. If increases in Carbon Dioxide were a cause of warming it should precede not come after a warming period.
Carbon Dioxide is a natural constituent part of our atmosphere and as such our atmospheric processes will eventually balance any human related increases through an increase in the activity of natural carbon sinks such as forests and oceans. Carbon Dioxide makes plants grow so any increase will result in a corresponding increase in plant life both on land and in the sea – these plants subsequently absorb the excess Carbon Dioxide. 50% of all Carbon Dioxide released by the human use of fossil fuels, deforestation or other human based causes has already been absorbed.
3. Climate Models Are Wrong
We experience weather on a day to day basis – with all the advances in recent decades meteorologists still struggle to predict weather outcomes more than five days in advance with any accuracy. Climate is measured over much longer periods – typically 30 years. The IPCC has adopted the Mann, Bradley and Hughes ‘Hockey Stick’ graph that shows a long term reduction in global temperatures over the previous 1000 years followed by a sharp increase in the last century.
The accuracy of this graph has been hotly disputed by ‘climate change sceptics’ for many of the reasons set out below including the use of flawed statistics that did not give sufficient recognition to previous warm periods and analytical algorithms that were weighted to produce hockey sticks. The data used to produce the model came from tree ring analysis which placed too much emphasis on samples from a species (bristlecone pine) known to give unreliable results. The models also overestimate the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate to Carbon Dioxide leading to exaggerated levels of warming.
Perhaps most worryingly was the revelation in emails leaked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research unit (one of the world’s leading climate change research institutes) stating that they used tricks to ‘hide the decline’. In essence they substituted tree ring data that did not match their required results for temperature data that did. That temperature data is alleged itself to be cherry picked to give the required result.
The models are, quite simply, unreliable. They fail accurately to predict changes in ocean circulation patterns. When the models are applied to the past they make considerable mistakes and fail to model previous known changes in climate with any accuracy. If models have been shown to be wrong we should not be relying on them to predict future changes in climate.
2. Ozone, Solar Activity And Other Agencies Are More Likely To Have A Long Term Impact On Global Warming
The level of solar activity is an important and often misunderstood factor in global temperature, this activity increased over the 20th Century. When the arctic air temperature was measured against solar activity (solar irradiance) for the period 1880-2000 the two measurements correlated very closely. When global fossil fuel use was measured against arctic air temperature for the same period the two did not correlate.
There is a school of thought that links warming to ozone depletion. This suggests that the period of warming seen in the latter 20th Century was due to the loss of ozone through use CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) of and not to greenhouse gasses. Ozone problems were of course, man made, but are in the process of being fixed with pre 1970 levels of CFCs are expected to return by 2050. The relative stability of ozone levels since 1997 coincides with a stalling in global temperature increases over the same period.
An in-depth study of the role of greenhouse gasses such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane in climate change both in the past and for the future states that manmade global warming should be put in context as a medium term effect as opposed to the long term natural effects (such as water vapor, glacial cycles, ice albedo and Milankovic cycles (changes in the Earth’s orbit) that may prove just as significant in the long term.
1. The Temperature Record Is Unreliable
Temperature graphs from land based weather stations show a rate of temperature increase that is not supported by data from weather balloons and satellites measuring the temperature in the upper atmosphere.
A study of temperature increase relies on access to reliable temperature data. However, a study in 2009 by the Heartland Institute showed that almost 90% of all US weather stations as set up by the National Weather Service are in urban heat islands. Urban areas are, on average warmer than rural areas. Asphalt absorbs and subsequently radiates a lot of heat, urban buildings generate a lot of heat. This trend is repeated in countries around the world.
Worldwide it is almost impossible to guarantee the accuracy of data – poorer countries do not keep complete records. Two thirds of the weather stations operating in the 1970s are still working today (the collapse of the Soviet Union shut down half the weather stations in the world). This means that it is impossible to create an accurate comparison of temperature records today and temperature records in the past. To deal with these problems climate change scientists apply adjustment algorithms but as we have seen above climate algorithms are notoriously unreliable. Tests have shown that these adjustments are ineffective and fail to remove ‘contamination’ in the results.
Richard Linzden of MIT wrote in 2008 that there had been ‘no global warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995’. However, Global Warming (or climate change as it has increasingly been referred to in order to combat the problem of a recent stall in the warming trends) has been politicized to such an extent that it is a multimillion dollar industry. It is accepted by most mainstream media as fact – dissenting views are marginalized with ‘health warnings’ if they are allowed at all. Scientific debate is often shut down with personal attacks made on scientists who speak out against the orthodox climate change.
The global temperature and carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated in the past and the current temperature is not unusual in a historical context. While the rate of temperature rise may correlate with the atmospheric levels of Carbon Dioxide correlation is not causation and no research to date has been able to prove a causal link. Solar activity also correlates almost precisely with global temperature rises for recent decades – this activity is completely independent of human activity.
The results of much of the research into global warming through history and its potential causes today show that the Earth regulates its temperature through a complex interrelationship of many different processes. From the levels of water vapor to ocean currents, orbital oscillations to solar activity these are processes over which man has no control. We do not, as yet, have the technology to model these effects with any accuracy. We can predict weather for up to five days in the future but all attempts to predict any longer term changes in weather or climate have proved futile.
The models used to predict climate change in the future have been shown to have been developed using unreliable proxy data and flawed temperature records. When these models are applied to scenarios we know in detail from the past they fail to give the correct results. These models quite simply don’t work and any research based on them is subsequently just as flawed.
The science on global warming is not ‘settled’. What is needed is strong rigorous research on warming and all possible causes – such research should be without bias. Science is only impoverished when it is politicized for specific goals.