Current discussion of the climate change controversy is hampered by selective use of data and a refusal to examine the controversy in the context of multi-discipline information. Controversy can only be quieted when rational application of multidisciplined knowledge is adopted.
- Proponents of a particular position are using selective data to bolster their positions.
- Society will best be served when all available information is employed to garner an understanding.
- Comprehensive understanding of climate change will allow the best utilization of resources and acceptance of a rational approach.
Most have heard the adage ‘can`t see the forest for the trees`. It is particularly fitting in the current global warming / climate change controversy. Simplistically, the expression means focusing on one condition, without looking at the overall background in which the condition resides. Strident controversy erupts regarding the role of atmospheric carbon and global warming. Protagonists of the man made (anthropogenic) carbon causation of global warming examine events of the past two-hundred years. Two hundred years covers several human lifetimes, but it is an insignificant period in the climate controversy1. Proponents of other theories extend observation to a thousand years. Even a millennia is trivial in a discussion of the earth`s climate.
Science has provided much information regarding the earth`s temperature history. This has been the fodder of climate change controversy. Few have attempted to look at the long-term history gleaned by science. Agonists tout the period advocating their favored hypothesis. How do hypotheses fare when placed in the perspective of extended time? Or, in terms of our adage, how does the tree relate to the forest?
|Science has provided much information over many disciplines. If government is to make rational decisions regarding the causation of global warming (let`s assume that it really is occurring), then all of these disciplines should be considered. We should apply Ockham`s razor to data from climatology, astronomy, geology and other relevant physical sciences, to obtain a unified hypothesis of climate change.
Raw data from ice core samples are available to show earth`s temperature for at least 540 million years.
|Phanerozoic Climate Change
|Images from Wikipedia, see endnotes
|These data show that earth has had a cyclic pattern of temperature or climatic change during this entire span of half a billion years.
Earth has been in a cooling phase for the last 100 million years2.
Even with fluctuations, simple observation reveals that the earth has been consistently cooling for the past 12 MILLION years. Cooling was not uniform; it displayed a cyclical pattern. The pattern has a periodicity of
|approximately 100,000 years. The periodicity is more pronounced in the data of the past five million years.
So, how do these temperature changes correlate with other findings such as ice thickness and CO2 concentrations?
|Data are available and show the 100,000 cycles, allowing for the coarse sampling that is acknowledged by the researchers. Particular note should be given to the relationship of the current cycle to those of past cyclical peaks. They show that the current peak in temperature is LESS than temperature peaks of ALL of the past four (4) cycles (400,000+ years). Likewise, the volume of ice is consistent with past cycles.
|Ice Age Temperature Changes
|Similarly, CO2 concentrations were comparable to past cycles until about 200 years ago. Over the past 200 years, CO2 concentrations have increased from about 280 parts per million (ppm) to the current level of 380 ppm (or from 0.000280 to 0.000380 = 0.028% to 0.038% of the atmosphere). This rise is referred to as the ‘hockey stick` of CO2 rise. The Wikipedia authors have attributed this rise to “The Industrial Revolution”, even though they point out, “The true magnitude
|of the PETM is likely to be understated in this figure due to coarse sampling.” This means that no one can tell if there was a “hockey stick” rise associated with prior peaks. The coarse measurements do not examine small enough time increments for comparison to a few hundred years. Further, causal attribution of the CO2 rise to the Industrial Revolution is an assumption, not grounded in fact. How will this correlate with other scientific observations?
A question that begs asking is, ‘in previous cycles, which came first, the increase in temperature or the increase in CO2 ?` Our scientists tell us that in previous cycles, the rises in CO2 LAGGED the increase in temperature by 800 to 2600 years. So, for the past few million years, these cycles have occurred with the earth first becoming warmer and then CO2 rose.
|Geologic observations may give an insight to global changes. Of interest is the fact that the magnetic north pole is rapidly shifting3 towards Siberia with a change pattern paralleling the CO2 ‘hockey stick`. The significance of diminishing magnetic strength is that the decreasing magnetic strength diminishes the protection against extra-terrestrial (predominately solar) radiation. As more solar radiation
is incident on the earth, it imparts more energy. Whether this increases temperature, or causes more sunburn or potentates the effect of greenhouse gases, it does cause an augmentation of climate change.
Glaciers in Greenland have been in retreat since at least 1729, before the Industrial Revolution could have a significant impact on climate4.
The US National Geological service maintains a list of earthquakes for more than 4,000 years5. Their list shows more earthquakes in the past 200 years than in the preceding 3800 years. This parallels the CO2 ‘hockey stick`, as well.
While we don`t pay attention to them (out of sight, out of mind), there are literally thousands of active sub-oceanic volcanoes releasing lava, daily6. Naturally, the heat from that lava is dissipated into ocean waters. That means that the oceans are warming � at least in part - due to sub-oceanic volcanic activity.
What can astronomy tell us about our relationship to other planets? Earth is in a coplanar orbit with the other planets in our solar system7. They have similar gravitational influences; it is logical to presume that the other planets would also demonstrate a variation between circular and elliptical orbits, similar to that for earth.
NASA photographs suggest that Mars and Saturn are warming as well.
Are there other pertinent observations? Everyone laughs but bovine flatulence contributes about one-sixth (18%) of the greenhouse gasses emitted. That`s MORE than all transportation produced carbon emissions.
What about the amount of CO2 emitted from natural sources? Not only do decay processes contribute but also it`s estimated that thawing of the Siberian tundra releases as much as one hundred times more carbon than ALL of man made carbon emissions!8 Even a pro-anthropogenic publication (Time, April 2006) stated that man is responsible for 7 gigatons of emission but naturally occurring emissions account for 80 to 100 gigatons. So, even anthropogenic protagonists admit that man is only responsible for 6% or 7% of the emissions. Does man deserve 100% of the blame?
Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas9, responsible for more than three quarters (up to 85%) of the greenhouse effect. Science has demonstrated a synergistic relationship between CO2 and development of water vapor. The relationship mechanism has not been delineated.
The Tree or The Forest
Having delineated scientific observations, let`s attempt explaining the observations as independent events (the trees), or, alternatively, apply Ockham`s razor and describe a unifying explanation (the forest).
Protagonists of anthropogenic (human caused) global warming / climate change, must say, as the assumption above, that the increase in CO2 is due to the industrial revolution. They cannot find an association with a shifting magnetic pole, natural causes of CO2 and methane production, sub-oceanic volcanoes nor the warming of Mars. All of these findings militate the anthropogenic model. Most go even further and ignore the effect of inherent changes seen in cycles. They deny those influences as related to current cycles in order to attribute all climate change to man.
They must also explanation of how the small increase of carbon dioxide causes a ‘one way valve‘ to allow energy to enter Earth without impediment yet prevent energy`s outward escape into space. Yes, CO2 does cause a thermal reflection but it is not a discrete, impenetrable atmospheric layer that only reflects heat back to the earth. The theory of glacial reflection and a positive feedback loop does not prove a greenhouse effect over natural climatic cycles. Both will produce the same effect. Where are the scientific studies showing that such a small change in carbon dioxide concentration will repel radiant energy as claimed by anthropogenic theorists? The comparison to the thick soup of an atmosphere on Venus falls short of explaining how a 0.000100 (100 ppm or 0.01%) change in CO2 can cause global warming.
Consider the basic physics that must be in place for human-caused global warming to be tenable. First, for CO2 to be the singular cause of global warming, one must discount all natural variation. That means the earth`s orbit about the sun must be perfectly circular so that a change in distance from sun to earth doesn`t cause differential warming. Remember - sunshine is a radiant form of energy that varies by the square of the distance, i.e., if you halve the distance you don`t just double the intensity: its square is four time the intensity.
Antagonists of anthropogenic causation would say that the first problem to be explained is how "man produced carbon emissions" are the causation of global warming. If anthropogenic production is only 1% of that released by the Siberian tundra, how could man, alone, be responsible for all change? AND, if anthropogenic production is less than bovine emissions of methane, how could man, alone, be responsible for all change? And, if anthropogenic production is MUCH LESS than concentrations of WATER VAPOR in the atmosphere, how could man, alone, be responsible for all change?
Next, how does carbon emission from ANY source cause global warming if the climate cycles show that WARMING comes BEFORE the INCREASES in CARBON CONCENTRATIONS? It takes no great intellect to realize that which follows an event does not cause the event.
How can increases in atmospheric carbon gases cause a shift of the magnetic north pole? The anthropogenic protagonist would have to say that there is no relationship.
The challenge would be for the non-anthropogenic protagonists to apply Ockham`s razor10 and give a unified explanation. Is there an alternate scientific phenomenon that can explain most if not all of these observations? Yes, there is. It`s the variation in the Earth`s orbit about the sun. Turns out it`s not a perfect circle but a cycling ellipse. And, the Earth`s orbit is currently at the closer aspect of the ellipse. An ellipse that has a periodicity of about 100,000 years � corresponding to Earth`s climate periodicity! A Serbian physicist, Milankovitch, in 1930, described the relationship of earth`s wobbling rotations about the sun and it`s variation from essentially circular to slightly elliptical. These variations are now known as Milankovitch Cycles. His theory is now widely accepted as the reason for earth`s glaciations.
Can this explain all of the observations? Yes. As the Earth orbits closer to the sun in its 100,000 year cycle (not the yearly cycle), there is natural global warming. This causes a release of CO2 and methane from the tundra, resulting in increased carbon based gases in the atmosphere. Hey, this would explain observation of not just the past 200 years - the period of man`s industrialization - but explains our 450,000 year observation!
The orbital change causes a shift in the magnetic north pole (see Dynamo theory11) and the Earth`s crust, resulting in greater quake activity. For simplicity, think of rotating a glass of iced-water, then stop rotating the glass. The ice-and water continue to rotate out of phase with the glass. This type phase shift explains the movement of the Earth`s crust and resultant quake activity, where the crust moves out of phase with the earth`s core.
|The physical explanation is that changes in angular momentum affect movement in the lithosphere as it glides on the supporting asthenosphere. Such movement is consistent with tectonic plate movement. As tectonic palates move, they allow release of heat and gases from the asthenosphere. Since the escapes occur at the ocean floors, they are not readily apparent to visual inspection. Thousands of oceanic volcanoes (commonly called a `Ring of Fire` in the Pacific basin) erupt daily. Their warming of the oceans undoubtedly affects global warming as the oceans serve to buffer temperature.
|Layered Model of Earth
One might even speculate that the sub-oceanic volcanic release of heat and gases is the reason that the earth has been COOLING for the past twelve million years. During the period that the earth`s crust is in motion, it is more porous. Oceans permeate the lithosphere, are warmed in the asthenosphere and the heat is percolated to the oceans. The oceans then warm, globally. When the crust is in a more stable period, there is less permeation and the oceans are no longer warmed, as much, from the core. Heat dissipates by radiation into space. The core, with a relatively stable lithosphere, is effectively sealed off and begins regenerating core heat. If the core cannot regenerate heat at a rate equal to or greater than the dissipation of heat, there is overall cooling as seen in the graphs. Obviously, this is not a complete explanation, as it does not clarify the 100 million year cycles of phanerozoic climate change.
By extension, if Mars` orbit parallels Earth`s elliptical orbit, the observation of Mars` global warming is also explained, as described by Milankovitch. Thus, the Milankovitch cycle explains the warming that has been discovered on other planets, such as Mars .
There is a more substantial and consequential risk that has not been addressed by the anthropogenicists. That is the shifting magnetic pole. The change in locus of the magnetic pole does not, necessarily, indicating impending doom, even if it were to go neutral or change polarity. What is important is what the changing pole signifies. That is a movement of the internal layers of the earth`s core. With the movement of the core, there will be compressions and shifts of the Earth`s crust, the land masses. As the crust compresses, there will be contralateral extrusions and, consequentially, an increase in quake activity due to the shifting land masses. Milankovitch Cycles are sufficient to postulate a phase shift with the Earth`s core moving at a differential speed compared to the Earth`s crust, causing magma flow changes and crust movement. Recently, abnormal and unexpected plate movement has been observed12. This was associated with a fourfold increase in the rate of movement, compared to the expected. It approached the accepted speed of the Indian Continental shift of billions of years ago. No, this is not to suggest that there is an imminent continental shift such as may have destroyed the dinosaurs.
Is this a complete explanation? Does this explain every blip on our cycles? No, of course not. Earth`s climate is much more complex than this. We haven`t tried to explain the impact of solar flares, El Nino variations, glacier versus land and ocean reflection (which would require consideration of white body and black body effects), et c, et c. However, the ‘forest` is consistent with more empirical observations than the tree of anthropogenic climate change. The forest does not require that we discount twelve million or 65 million or 500 million years worth of data, as the anthropogenic theory requires.
The Lesson of the Forest
Sorry to include so much minutia. But, facts, not supposition, are necessary to understand the complex natural forces that affect us. The importance of ferreting an explanation of forest or tree is to gain an understanding of whether man is capable of altering the changes that are occurring, If so, we must change our lives, drastically. If not, we must strive to adapt rather than trying, futilely, to alter nature`s inevitable occurrences. It would be the height of arrogance and hubris for mankind to demand that earth adapt to man.
To fall for the demagoguery of man-made global warming is to waste the resources that we have and to impose a burden on society that will not produce the desired benefit. We should be good stewards and minimize our pollution. But, history has shown the dire predictions of doom are unfounded. From Malthus to Exxon Valdez, the doomsayers have been wrong. Proponents of anthropogenic climate change must be included in this group until such time as they can show, with a scientific probability, not a ‘consensus` of hypotheses, that a 100 million year history is inconsequential to our current climate. Our society, our lifestyles and even our children`s well being demand at least that much of us.
Yes, global warming is real. But, the forest says that it is a natural process and totally out of our control. As the lyrics of a song (who`ll stop the rain?) demonstrate, man is incapable of affecting natural climatic events, much less global occurrences. It`s only the hucksters trying to sell carbon credits who will benefit from the disruption of society, if we fall for their spiel. They have no evidence to validate their hypothesis, only hysteria. Some national and local governments have swallowed their spiel hook, line and sinker. In doing so, they abandoned reasoning and scientific investigation and become dupes of the carbon credit crowd.
Misunderstanding Global Warming: Alexander Cockburn versus Reality. Mike Byron, Ph.D..
4 Milankovitch Cycles and Glaciation
5 Significant Worldwide Earthquakes (2150 B.C. - 1994 A.D.) http://neic.usgs.gov/cgi-bin/epic/epic.cgi?SEARCHMETHOD=1&FILEFORMAT= 4&SEARCHRANGE=NO&SUBMIT= Submit+Search&SYEAR=&SMONTH=&SDAY=&EYEAR=&EMONTH=&EDAY=&LMAG=&UMAG= &NDEP1=&NDEP2=&IO1=&IO2= &SLAT2=0.0&SLAT1=0.0&SLON2=0.0&SLON1=0.0&CLAT=0.0&CLON=0.0&CRAD=0
10 American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source Ock�ham's razor also Oc�cam's razor: A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony
12 http://www.terradaily.com/reports/2006_Tectonic_Plate_Motion_Reversal_Near_Acapulco_Puzzles_ Earthquake_Scientists_999.html
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We might finally know why Earth’s north magnetic pole is moving
Has Earth’s inner core stopped its strange spin?