Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Great Debate On Climate Change

Here is something I sincerely do not understand. According to current thinking, human-caused global warming is supposed to be one of the biggest threats facing civilization today and everyone who can is expected to spend billions of dollars to combat this threat, with those who won't pay the tab being villified in the most horrible manners available. Yet, according to all of the research I can find, not only is it not proven that there is a true warming trend, it is also not proven that human activity has anything more than a minimal impact on global climate. Even those who support such initiatives as the Kyoto Treaty admit that these enormous expenditures would have only small effects (the most common numbers associated with the Kyoto Treaty seem to indicate an approximately 5 degree increase in global mean temperature over the next century with the full effect of the treaty offsetting that by about one degree). I am not suggesting that anyone should stick their heads in the sand and do nothing about anything, but this seems to be a rather large amount of effort and money for a bunch of maybes, especially when those maybes are counterbalanced by history.
As a point of referance to chew over, we've only been keeping satellite records of climate conditions since 1979. That is an eye blink in global climate terms and yet mean global sea ice levels right now are roughly equal to what they were then. For those of you who were not around (or aware) in 1979, the trendy hysteria of the time was an impending ice age. All of the public experts of the time were predicting it with the same force and assurance that they now use for predicting global warming trends. They were wrong then. What makes them right now? With sea ice levels now equal to what they were then, should we now be worrying about an ice age again instead of global warming?
I don't know about you but, considering the two possibilities, I'll take global warming over an ice age any day. Humanity and human civilization can survive the former much better and more easily than the latter. Warming rearranges some coastal maps, alters some farming areas, and causes some animal extinctions. Glaciation on an ice age scale buries coastal and inland maps, removes large chunks of farmland, and causes mass extinctions on a scale most people cannot comprehend. The known impacts of an ice age would dwarf any predicted impacts of global warming. In simplest terms, global warming means more tropical locations while ice age means more acrtic locations. A gross oversimplification, I admit, but you get the point. Which would you rather have?
I have issued this challenge before but I will issue it again to all of those Chicken Littles out there who want everyone to commit so much resources to battling a maybe:
1. Can you present evidence that there is an abnormal trend in global mean climate, as opposed to routine fluctuations that we know occur?
2. If #1 is yes, can you present evidence that human activity has an appreciable impact on this trend as opposed to, for example, volcanoes and earthquakes?
3. If #1 and #2 are yes, can you present evidence that human activity short of mass depopulation or mass poverty can have an appreciable impact on reversing or otherwise altering the trend?
This is a very simple three step challenge and, if global warming is truly the known threat that adherants claim it to be, there should be no difficulty in answering these questions. The answers (in the positive, even) would appear in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals that anyone who was seriously interested could easily access and quote and all three must be answered "yes" in order for the current hysteria to be accurate. In reality, however, I have never seen anyone get past #1. There has not yet been one single peer-reviewed article that proves that there is anything other than routine climate fluctuations occurring. That is not to say that there can't be a trend happening, but it hasn't been proven and we have a long way to go before anyone is justified in demonizing someone who asks for more evidence before committing billions.

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