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By Olin Potter
It has been belabored since 1997, has become a religious doctrine, won a peace prize and also been called "the greatest deception in the history of science." Contrary opinions are heresy and their proponents have received death threats.
The subject has been a political football and until recently the arguments, pro, from the left, and con, from the right, could be dismissed as typical political nonsense. Now, however, our congress has started to consider legislation that could result in the largest transfer of wealth to the undeveloped world ever considered and in the process cause America to lose its sovereignty as part of the "globalization" mantra espoused through the U.N. (Read John Bolton for info here). So, now it is time to sit up and examine this situation thoroughly.
The subject of all this distress is, of course, the world's future weather. We hear dire predictions about the catastrophic effects of atmospheric carbon-dioxide as being the root cause of world calamity. The arguments that are usually followed are:
Glaciers are melting, CO2 is increasing due to burning fossil fuels, and earth's temperature is rising, ergo, CO2 is the cause of the future end of the world as we know it. Anyone that disagrees with this hypothesis is referred to Al Gore's movie and his Peace Prize for proof. Remember though, the Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded to people like Arafat and Carter.
Now, the arguments are stated as settled facts and so politicized that an enquiring mind should say, "Whoa," let's take a closer scientific look. When the word science appears, eyes glaze over and the mind wanders. But, hey, facts are stubborn things .The scientific process involves putting forth a hypothesis, laying out the facts as understood, followed by peer review in a give-and-take evaluation. It is interesting to note that Al Gore will not engage in debate about his emotionally presented movie. This makes his scenario have a science fiction flavor.
DOOM AND GLOOM
Now getting back to the doom-and-gloom arguments engendered by the man-made CO2 scenario. Yes, we have glacier shortening, yes, we have increasing CO2 and yes temperatures are rising, but does this mean that man-made atmospheric carbon use will be the cause of our demise?
Take a look at Graph #1 and note several items: Concern over carbon use started at about the beginning of the Industrial Age, 1840. Glacier shortening started on a steady uptrend and remained on the same steady climb right past the six-fold increase in carbon use after WWII showing no correlation between CO2 and glacier shortening. This data presents the average length of 169 glaciers and was published in Science Magazine by J. Oerlemanns, Vol.308, pp675-677.
Graph #2 compares Arctic air temperature variations with solar activity. Note the close correlation between solar activity and the surface air temperature but that hydrocarbon use does not. Note too, that the Arctic has been in a warming trend since about 1960.
This data was compiled by W. Soon, D. V. Hoyt and K. H. Schatten, Geophysical Research Letters, 32 and 98.
To put temperature change into perspective this chart compiles 2,000 years of the Sargasso Sea temperature change. There is a 1 to 2 degree C. swing which averages out at 23 C (74 F). The authors note that we are recovering from what was called the Little Ice Age which occurred when Washington was crossing the Delaware. So you see, the temperature rise that is in effect now is nothing that hasn't been experienced in the past. Not an extreme situation at all and is currently approaching the normal average temperature.
Data here are from L.D. Keigwin, Science, 274.
Similar data are available showing U. S., northern hemisphere, and southern hemisphere as well as global temperature with similar conclusions. Their variations all correlate very closely with solar activity. The only anomaly in all of this data was the effects of El Nino in the mid 1990s. There is also data showing sea level rising at about seven inches per century. The earth has been much warmer in the past. Why was Greenland, that ice covered continent, called Greenland when the Vikings were active?
In summary then, hydrocarbon use is not correlated with temperature. There was a surface air temperature rise 100 years before any significant carbon use. A temperature increase occurred between 1910 and 1940 with not much change in carbon use. This was followed by a temp drop from 1940 to 1972 as carbon use rose by 330 percent.
Earth has been warming as it recovers from the little ice age, at the rate of about 0.5 C. per century. Other atmospheric gasses in significant quantities include H2O and methane (CH4). Water vapor (cloud) has a controlling effect on our climate.
Taking all of these data into consideration the question becomes, why all this hue and cry now, predicting climate disaster due to man-made carbon discharge. Think politics.
Politicians must create a crisis in order to keep their names in the headlines. It also suits the media's journalistic philosophy to magnify the distortions used. Also academia loves the research money and furthers their arguments. Well, you say the IPPC report (U.N. committee) proves the dangers caused by carbon use. What is referred to, usually, is the preliminary summary issued prior to the more involved total report. This "final" complete version (hardly read) toned down the catastrophic predictions that the media first trumpeted. Much of this change was caused by the IPPC writing committee. They sent the individual sub-committee sections back to their authors for rewrite to conform to the committee's pet theories. Many of the scientists refused and quite a few quit.
There is another aspect to why so many people believe this carbon problem. It's called herd mentality.
To test this, a reporter attended a "green" rally with a petition. People interviewed were to sign up if Dihydrogen monoxide, used by the nuclear power companies, should be prevented, etc. They signed up in droves. You guessed it -- water.
There is a much greater danger than just the CO2 misconception that our Congress is toying with. It's called "Cap and Trade." Under this legislative charade every entity that emits carbon would be issued a maximum "cap" allotment which must not be exceeded. The "trade" makes it possible to swap carbon shares with those not up to their cap. This would create a tremendous money flow to the Third World from the more industrialized west. Just considering the vast bureaucratic nightmare it would create to say nothing of the skullduggery that no doubt would take place just boggles the mind. Why, would anyone even consider such a scheme?
There is a globalist mentality afoot promoted through the U.N. whereby peace, harmony and low atmospheric CO2 would be achieved by U.N. membership. America, the land of freedom, would lose its sovereignty under rules of this nature.
In junior high I learned that CO2 is needed for photosynthesis. Increases in this gas increase the growth of plant life which in turn feeds our animals allowing more available food. Also, warmer weather extends the growth season.
So, fear not, our planet's weather is constantly changing and has been through many cycles similar to the current one without destruction. Be more fearful of our politicians ruining this country's financial health and subverting our Constitutional freedoms. This is a hoax, and should be quickly discarded similar to the earlier belief in witches.
Olin Potter lives in Waitsfield.