Climate Change – The Actual Science

The climate change debate really isn't about the basic science of greenhouse gases. Just like physical actions can cause a mechanical system to vibrate, the frequencies that the molecular bonds of CO₂ can absorb and vibrate to are in the infrared spectrum, what we measure as heat. No scientist argues that.

All else being held equal, under laboratory conditions, each doubling of the CO₂ concentration in a gaseous mix under infrared light spectrum (the part of the spectrum that is felt as heat) will increase the temperature of that gaseous mix by about 1.1°C (which is about 2°F). That would mean that in order to go up by that 1.1°C the concentration would have to go from the approximately 280 ppm (parts per million) of the 1800s to 560 ppm. To go up another 1.1°C we would have to double that, to 1120 ppm. For a third 1.1°C increase it would take going up to 2240 ppm. We're currently at 400 ppm, less than halfway to even a first doubling.

The disagreement is actually about the multipliers that fuel the "catastrophic" story line. Because all else in the chaotic system that is a worldwide climate system is not held equal. Any initial change creates secondary changes. The question is what those secondary changes are and do they, on balance, tend to increase the temperature further or to reduce the overall temperature changes and by how much.

The catastrophe predictors use a multiplier as much as 6 or more, meaning that each doubling would make the temperature go up by 6.6°C. Even the IPCC (The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has reduced the low end of their expected targets to a multiplier of only 1.5. However, actual readings of temperature suggest an even lower multiplier because what's being measured is lower than 95%+ of the all various computer models' projections.

While there is consensus (and even if there weren't it wouldn't matter - science is what it is and scientists make mistakes regularly) on the basic science of greenhouse gases, there is *no* consensus on the magnitude of the feedback mechanisms or even what all the feedbacks are. We're continually finding new ones. We're also continually finding new cycles and other things that affect the climate in general, everything from the sun to cosmic rays, ocean currents and many others that also come into play in the net climate at any given time.

We can't even explain much of the known climatic changes in the past. It's the height of hubris to say we know what it will be 100 years from now. We can't even predict the totally human created stock market using computers. How on Earth (pun intended) can we predict the far more chaotic changes in a global climate?

But by the same token, to deny basic physics isn't good either. Yes, CO₂ does affect atmospheric temperature. But the net human and natural consequences of those changes aren't known. We know it improves some things, particularly plant growth and the fact that more people die from cold related illnesses and injuries than heat related. Others it may make worse such as the rate of sea level rise (the sea level has been rising since the last ice age ended - it's just somewhat faster now).

In the even longer range, we may actually *want* to do everything we can to increase the average temperature as we approach the end of this interglacial period. We're already past the time period that some of them have lasted before cooling to a new ice age again. 

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Climate Change Debate, Global Warming, Cow Farts And Carbon Emissions

I don’t deny that there has been global warming. That’s usually what happens when ice ages end. Yes, there has been an increase in CO2 and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. So is methane. The biggest greenhouse gas is H2O in the form of clouds. Overall climate is always changing.

GreenhouseBUT, and  it’s a big BUT, for all the claims that our carbon emissions (and now cow farts) are the sole, or even major, cause of the warming there is not one model that I can find that tracks the actual climactic record. I’m not talking a year or two here and there, but going on decadal trends. When the models are  that far off, I can’t give much weight to the conclusions that are drawn from them. Climate is such a chaotic system with so MANY inputs that trying to tie it to just the one input of carbon emissions is ludicrous.

We only have accurate global data for the last 50 years or so out of 4.5 billion years. When I read about data falsification, that creates big questions as to what we can believe. When I see “corrections” like, for instance, growing city’s heat island effects on recorded temperature, that are so inconsistently applied and in only certain circumstances giving questionable results that even a 5th grader could see, that also casts a lot of doubt on the results.

As an aside, global warming and higher CO2 aren’t even all bad – higher CO2 = higher agricultural yields. More people die from cold than heat. There was a reason that Greenland was called Greenland when it was first settled during the Medieval Warm Period when it was warmer than it is now. There was another similar period during the heyday of the Roman Empire. There is no “right” climate.

But the prophets of doom would have us beggar our society in the cause of these unprovable assertions. We are ordered to limit our energy to only “sustainable” sources at high costs for an admittedly small (very small) net lowering in global CO2 levels in the air at an admittedly large (very large) cost.

Gloomy DayGuess what? The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Battery storage prices are still way too high. There are only so many dams that can be built and, even then, only in some places. We still haven’t solved the societal question of dealing with nuclear wastes. That leaves fossil fuels as the only universally available and most affordable source for power generation. Coal is the most common and least expensive. However, there’s no proven affordable method of “carbon sequestration” yet, for all the EPA’s claims to the contrary. Big Oil is the Great Satan of the environmentalists with fracking for natural gas not far behind.

Why not let people decide what they want to believe? Let the market find economical methods to sell in the name of reducing carbon emissions. Those research projects have been going on since before there WAS a global warming boogie man. Those trade-offs should be made by the people themselves, using their own resources, not governments spending other people’s money with reckless abandon.

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