Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Matter Of Opinion

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A Matter of Opinion
Has manmade pollution in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases caused a runaway Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming?
Before joining the mantra, consider the following:

Compiled by R.S. Bradley and J.A. Eddy based on J.T. Houghton et al., Climate Change: The IPCC Assessment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990 and published in EarthQuest, vo. 1, 1991. Courtesy of Thomas Crowley, Remembrance of Things Past: Greenhouse Lessons from the Geologic Record

1. The idea that man-made pollution is responsible for global warming is not supported by historical fact. The period known as the Holocene Maximum is a good example-- so-named because it was the hottest period in human history. The interesting thing is this period occurred approximately 7500 to 4000 years B.P. (before present)-- long before human's invented industrial pollution.

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Figure 1
2. CO2 in our atmosphere has been increasing steadily for the last 18,000 years-- long before humans invented smokestacks ( Figure 1). Unless you count campfires and intestinal gas, man played no role in the pre-industrial increases.
As illustrated in this chart of Ice Core data from the Soviet Station Vostok in Antarctica, CO2 concentrations in earth's atmosphere move with temperature. Both temperatures and CO2 have been steadily increasing for 18,000 years. Ignoring these 18,000 years of data "global warming activists" contend recent increases in atmospheric CO2 are unnatural and are the result of only 200 years or so of human pollution causing a runaway greenhouse effect.
Incidentally, earth's temperature and CO2 levels today have reached levels similar to a previous interglacial cycle of 120,000 - 140,000 years ago. From beginning to end this cycle lasted about 20,000 years. This is known as the Eemian Interglacial Period and the earth returned to a full-fledged ice age immediately afterward.

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Figure 2
3. Total human contributions to greenhouse gases account for only about 0.28% of the "greenhouse effect" (Figure 2). Anthropogenic (man-made) carbon dioxide (CO2) comprises about 0.117% of this total, and man-made sources of other gases ( methane, nitrous oxide (NOX), other misc. gases) contributes another 0.163% .
Approximately 99.72% of the "greenhouse effect" is due to natural causes -- mostly water vapor and traces of other gases, which we can do nothing at all about. Eliminating human activity altogether would have little impact on climate change.

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Figure 3
4. If global warming is caused by CO2 in the atmosphere then does CO2 also cause increased sun activity too?
This chart adapted after Nigel Calder (6) illustrates that variations in sun activity are generally proportional to both variations in atmospheric CO2 and atmospheric temperature (Figure 3).
Put another way, rising Earth temperatures and increasing CO2 may be "effects" and our own sun the "cause".

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