AGW Skepticism and Rationale (Warning: Long)

Discussion in 'Environment' started by TopGunna, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. TopGunna
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    TopGunna Member

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    Given the recent series of posts promoting global warming hysteria, I want to give the board an overview of my beliefs regarding the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory. I also want to point out what the settled facts are, and identify those parts which are simply hypothesis.

    I am an AGW skeptic, but not a “global warming” skeptic. The Earth warms and cools in constant cycles of varying lengths. In the very short term, local temperatures warm during the day and cool at night. Any given area will warm every summer, and cool every winter. There are also longer-term trends, where the Earth’s climate fluctuates between ice ages and interglacial warm periods. I do believe that the Earth is in a 100-year warming trend, so in that sense, I do believe in global warming. I also acknowledge that the Earth is in an 8-year cooling trend, a fact not popular among true climate change “deniers.”

    Of course, 8 years isn’t that significant. But is 100? 500 years ago, the Vikings were farming Greenland, which is basically a glacier nowadays. If anecdotal evidence passes for “hard science,” isn’t Greenland an excellent example of long-term global cooling? If 500 years isn’t enough - 35 million years ago, the Colorado River was flowing through the present-day Grand Canyon. I’d say the local climate there has changed quite a bit.

    None of the above facts prove or disprove AGW theory – but to suggest the climate was virtually static before man intervened is complete and utter nonsense.

    So we’ve established that the Earth has been in a 100-year warming trend – about .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. Of course, mankind has only been systematically measuring temperatures for 100 years, so all this suggests is that it is warmer today than it was at the arbitrary point at which man began recording temperatures. Coincidentally, two things happened at that point:

    1) The Earth was emerging from an era known as the Little Ice Age – a period so cold that the Thames froze over yearly in England, and a multitude of people were able to migrate to America over the Bering Land Bridge.
    2) The industrial revolution that led to man producing significant amounts of CO2 emissions.

    So right from the get-go, the AGW claim is that temperatures 100 years ago were “normal”, and modern-day temperatures are abnormally high. Really? It can’t possibly be the case that today’s temperatures are normal, and 100 years ago the Earth was abnormally cold? What exactly is “normal” in a constantly fluctuating climate? Oh, I know, the arbitrary point at which man began recording temperatures. How scientific!

    Getting into the theory of AGW, it’s a bit of a mish-mash of facts and theory that some folks have trouble discerning. It is indeed true that the global average temperature has risen over the past 100 years, and it is also true that we’ve increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 1/3 through the burning of fossil fuels (from 280 PPM to 384 PPM). That might seem like a lot, but when I pose the data a different way, the impact seems trivial.

    Pre-Industrial Levels:
    CO2: .028%
    Other Atmospheric Components: 99.972%

    Present-Day Levels:
    CO2: .0384%
    Other Atmospheric Components: 99.9616%

    It is also true that carbon dioxide can act as a greenhouse gas, and can trap heat that would otherwise escape into space. But the very study that validates CO2 as a greenhouse gas also proves that there is a diminishing return relationship between CO2 concentrations and temperature forcing. As concentrations approach infinity, the total possible temperature increase levels off logarithmically around 1.2 degrees C. This is because CO2 can only absorb select frequencies of infrared radiation – and as such, each additional increment of CO2 traps less heat than the previous.

    That’s where the facts end and the theory begins. AGW theory makes some assumptions about how this initial temperature forcing will resonate in the Earth’s climate system. According to alarmists, the initial CO2 forcing will trigger incredibly strong positive feedback mechanisms that will amplify and accelerate the warming (by 200-1000% or more)! These feedbacks include reduced ice albedo, and increased evaporation which leads to more atmospheric water vapor (a much more powerful greenhouse gas). These feedbacks are plausible, but they are theoretical (read: no empirical evidence) and certainly not the only feedback effects at work.

    In any naturally occurring long-term stable system you can think of, negative feedbacks outweigh the positive feedbacks, and I believe this is the case in the climate system. Negative feedbacks promote long-term stability by keeping a system within a natural range of variation. Variance is perfectly normal in a long-term stable system, as forcings in multiple directions keep the system within a range centered around an equilibrium point.

    Increased plant growth and low cloud formation are among these negative feedbacks that have a cooling effect, dampening the CO2 warming. Unlike the positive feedbacks, there is empirical proof that these effects are triggered by temperature increase. Yet climate models typically build in assumptions that these proven negative feedbacks are masked by the theoretical positive feedbacks. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and I take exception to a theory built on what I consider some very questionable assumptions.

    If the Earth’s climate is governed by natural positive feedbacks, then why do alarmists claim the Earth’s climate was extremely stable before man intervened? Shouldn’t other slight disturbances have led to runaway warming in the past? In data primarily gathered from ice cores, we see carbon dioxide levels were 500 times higher during the Cretaceous period, some 160 million years ago. But no runaway warming occurred then, so why is it certain that CO2 will trigger runaway warming now? This claim and the assumptions about positive feedbacks are extremely paradoxical.

    But that’s where the doomsday scenarios come from – the belief that climate reacts profoundly to the temperature forcing of CO2 (called “climate sensitivity” in the IPCC reports). When you plug a large climate sensitivity multiplier into forecast models, obviously the models’ output will reflect this multiplier. But if the magnitude (and quite possibly, the sign!) of this multiplier is questionable, then so is the model’s output.

    Is there incentive to produce models with these doomsday forecasts? Absolutely. By presenting the possible threats of the situation, climate scientists can make a case to justify increased funding to study the problem and seek solutions. The more dire the situation they present, the greater case they have for continued study.

    Should we employ a carbon abatement strategy, just in case? In my belief, no. If you want to talk about strong correlation, prosperity in the modern world and carbon emissions go hand-in-hand. There is tremendous opportunity cost to carbon abatement in terms of future wealth. Curbing worldwide economic growth by 2% (say, from 4% to 2%) results in an economy one-seventh the size of its potential (compounding over 50 years). That is a huge loss in wealth. Would you purchase home insurance if the cost exceeded the cost to rebuild your home from scratch? Increased wealth won’t prevent future natural disasters, but it will sure do wonders for man’s ability to cope with them.

    The Earth’s climate is unpredictable and driven by countless interactions. The greenhouse effect is one of the factors that determines climate, but it is not the driver. The greenhouse effect and atmospheric CO2 are naturally occurring and absolutely essential to sustain life. To suggest that such a slight increase in this effect (which again, is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO OUR EXISTANCE) will trigger catastrophic warming? Mother Nature sure has a cruel sense of irony!

    And if you want a concrete example of leaping from hypothesis to claimed fact, look no further than local Chicken Little, Kirk. Within days of posting a link to an article, “The North Pole Might Be Briefly Ice-Free this Summer,” he added such posts as “We’ve melted the pole, Dude!” and “We’ve melted the pole in 50 short years!” Suddenly, possibility became reality, and fossil fuels became the definite culprit. Classic make-believe.

    If anyone can find legitimate flaws or holes in my chain of thought, I’ll be glad to reconsider. But no amount of scare-mongering will convince me, as I prefer rationale when discussing scientific matters.
     
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  2. Bern80
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    Bern80 Gold Member

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    Lots of good info there. Especially for us AGW skeptics.
     
  3. Charles_Main
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    Charles_Main AR15 Owner

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    Good post, but I have some bad news for you such as. To the GW alarmist if you do not buy every single part of their often flawed arguments, then you do not think the earth is warming at all, and are a moron, or you work for Exxon, or maybe you are a member of the illuminati. LOL

    Seems the GW alarmists have taken a page from Bush.

    "If you are not with us, your against us"

    :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  4. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    As our many of us.


    You are basing your trends on what, exactly? Intuition or something?

    Hard to respond to that rationally because it's all over the map. But yes there are national climatic changes to be sure. Some huge and remain for a long time vast and some don't last so long.

    Nobody disputes this and everybody knows it, too.

    This is a strawman, you know.. Nobody I have ever read suggested that the "the climate was virtually static before man intervened"

    No, but you asserted that as a fact.


    Yes, true, But mankind CAN establish with a high degree of certainty what the earts temperature was for the last 600,000 years. ARe you aware of this? Or do you join others in not believing in that science?

    Okay, with you so far.

    Yup.

    You mistate the argument for global warming, you know.

    What they are saying is that the RATE OF CHANGE is highly unusual


    Again, you mischaracterize the argument in order to refute it. I assume you are doing so honestly. Still you are wrong about what the proponents of AGW are saying.

    with you so far...



    Okay, so we believe you math is correct

    Let us take the above as right as rain, okay?

    Now you are assuming that CO2 levels are all that are driving global warming, and that a 1.2 degree centigrate change will not trigger other events which ALSO cause GW.

    Yes, they make assumptions. They also make statements of fact. Let's see if you identify any, and if you do, how you deal with them.


    According to waht "alarmists', please. I don't mean to be a prick, but are you arguming against the majoiryt opinion, now, or the extrmeist positions within the AGW community that you can find.

    The differences , even within that community are rather significant.


    Okay, not doubt increased temperature leads to increased H2O loading in the atmosphere,


    It is THEORY that warmer air can hold more water vapor? Hmmm...I don't think so. I think that is easily proven and well known.

    Huh? You lost me there. You above argument just went into proxisms to PROVE TO US THAT THE CLIMATE IS NOT A LONG-TERM STABILE SYSTEM.

    Okay, I can buy that.


    I'm sorry, I am not familiar enough with these models to respond to the above.

    Can yor please show us exactly what you mean by quoting any of those models?


    I can't blame you. Obviously you have spent a great deal of time crunching the numbers from these specious models.

    Again, I'd like to see your math on this, okay?


    Well they don't.


    I don't think you really understand the Cretaseous period as well as you think you do.

    here's my understanding of the climatic changes which occurred during that period from Cretaceous - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    If you've read the above, then you'll realize how wrong the following quote of your is..

    Now it is not entirely unreasonable to question the motives of AGW proponents.

    Do you agree that it is not entirely unreasonable to question the motives of AGW scoffers, too?

    FWIW, I read the rest of your post, but since so much of it hinges on the arguments you made above, arguments which I responded to, when I could, I think it premature for me to comment on your conclusions until I give you time to respond to the things I've commented on.

    Great post, by the way.

    Well reasoned, not insulting to people pointlessly.

    Pretty much the sort of post that keeps this place alive for me.

    thanks
     
  5. Chris
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    Chris Gold Member

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    How long ago was the North Pole ice free?
     
  6. Chris
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    Chris Gold Member

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    TopGunna, what silly post.

    Feedbacks are theoretical? Feedbacks are already happening. The ice at the North Pole reflects heat. When the pole melts the open water absorbs much more heat that ice does. That is one feedback that is already happening. The permafrost is melting and the permafrost contains methane which is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. That is another feedback that is already happening. So to say that feedbacks are "theoretical" is a lie.

    You also claim the global warming scientists claim that the climate was "static" before the industrial age. That is also a lie. No one claims the climate was static.

    In fact no one claims that CO2 is the only component of global warming. The Stanford Solar Center scientists who have studied the sun's output estimate that the sun is at the most 25% of the warming effect we are seeing.

    You also claim that ice cores show that CO2 levels were 500 times higher millions of years ago. The ice core record only goes back 600,000 years, and it shows that CO2 levels now are higher than at anytime in the last 600,000 years. So again you lie.

    You insult me by calling me a "chicken little." California is experiencing its worst drought in recorded history, and 1,000 square miles of California have already burned.

    And the fire season hasn't even started yet.

    Likewise some scientists are saying that the North Pole may be ice free this summer. How long has it been since the North Pole was ice free?

    On the one hand we have all these climatologists whose job it is to study the climate, and on the other hand we have all these global warming deniers who are not even climatologists and are funded by the Western Fuels Association. Who are we supposed to believe?

    It is ironic that even Exxon now takes global warming seriously and has stopped funding these groups, but the right continues to quote them and hold on to the fantasy that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by one third is not warming the planet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  7. Bern80
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    Bern80 Gold Member

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    You have your hands wrong. You seem to assume that all climatolgists believe in AGW which is simply not the case.


    It's ironic that a company which conducts marketing is catering to what's popular?
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2008
  8. Charles_Main
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    Charles_Main AR15 Owner

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    Note how the pattern keeps repeating. If you question anything they say, you are "denying global Warming is happening at all"

    Sigh
     
  9. Chris
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    Chris Gold Member

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    At first they did deny that global warming was happening at all. Then when it became too obvious they started denying that it was mostly caused by man. Now they are just making stuff up.
     
  10. Charles_Main
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    Charles_Main AR15 Owner

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    Who is they? I personally have never denied it is happening. Where I start to question it is how much is caused by Humans, and how much we can actually do to stop it.
     

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