Sunday, May 01, 2005

Climate Change Questions

I've spent five months researching and analyzing the science behind global warming. By mid-January, I'd formulated a syllogism assessing the Kyoto climate treaty:
Kyoto emission caps are justified only if all five of the following are true:
  1. global warming exists

  2. global warming would be harmful

  3. global warming is man-made, as a result of increased CO2 emissions

  4. Kyoto caps would significantly reduce emissions

  5. the costs of imposing Kyoto caps are less than the benefits
None of these points are proven; each is disputed by various scientists and other experts. The probability that ALL are true (thus validating Kyoto) can be calculated by multiplying the individual probabilities. Assuming, charitably, each has half a chance of being accurate, the total probability the Earth needs Kyoto is 3.13 percent. That's tiny.

So, my Kyoto alternative: do nothing. It's safer and cheaper.
I've gathered plenty of data--enough to suggest some warming may be real (though there's plenty of data to the contrary). Since then, I've been distracted by, as Moonbattery observed, circular proofs and, as Amy Ridenour found, surprising evidence of reason. I've concentrated on questions 2-5, but got bogged down in the science.

Thankfully, MaxedOutMama didn't. Her thoughtful and link-rich post covers the broken Hockey stick (unrelated to the NHL strike), the scientific shift from cold to warm, and the absence of correlation between CO2 concentration and rising temperatures. As Mama observes, the third point is critical because Kyoto assumes cutting man-made CO2 emissions reduces warming. If CO2 isn't the culprit, Kyoto compliance costs (enormous in my view) become irrelevant; the treaty can be abandoned without unanimity about costs or benefits.

Go to Mama's post while I rejoice that -- for me -- the global warming game's gone into overtime.


Les Jones picks up the thread.


MaxedOutMama said...

An example of the synergism of blogging?

Kyoto would not significantly reduce emissions, so number 4 is out. That much is agreed upon. (You might like the Kyoto clock at The best estimate is less than a degree lower in a century. However Kyoto has been sold to the public on the basis that we are looking at much greater temperature changes from CO2 within that century. The public naturally assumes that Kyoto is supposed to do something about the problem, but it won't. What was always assumed was that we would have to impose much greater controls costing far more to actually have an influence.

So for point 5 you must assume a cost far higher than the cost for Kyoto. Multiply by at least 3. So now you have thrown out 4 and 5. As to whether global warming is harmful or not, that depends on other factors. If we were sinking into an Ice Age, we would need to induce man-made warming. If the sun were to get stronger, then we would want to throw up a dust cloud to block some of the effect. It turns out that large volcanoes perceptibly lower global temperatures for several years! (Which is also another reason for considering the sun's output as a primary forcer of climate.)

The result of putting Kyoto into effect is thus nothing; the sun's natural effect on climate far outweighs any twiddling we can do. A considerable amount of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is probably related to the slow warming of the ocean as we come off the abnormally cold period of the last 600 years. To lower CO2 we might be far better off to consider irrigating the Sahara and planting trees there.

However natural climate change is such a huge threat to the stability of the world that it does pay us to study our climate and figure out what is happening and how we could effectively twiddle with the world's climate.

What makes me laugh until I feel sick is the continued hysterics about small increases in temperature disrupting the polar caps. The ice caps have been melting since the end of the last ice age and will continue to melt with fluctuations as the sun's energy output oscillates. The other variable is how much replenishment they experience from precipation. They can grow under some mildly warmer conditions if the snowfall is large enough to trump the melting on the margins.

So we are not exactly coming up with brilliant insights by triumphantly snapping photos of receding glaciers, are we? I don't understand how people can think so illogically and irrationally. When you examine the whole movement, you realize that the only belief that would support these conclusions is that the world naturally has a steady-state climate. And it doesn't, which has been known for all of my lifetime.

Future historians will regard this as an incident of mass hysteria, because that's exactly what it is.

Anonymous said...

Some "global warming" data seems to suggest that the world is actually getting cooler if you compile all the data from the mid 19th century through 2005, and instead of islands in the South Pacific being flooded by the melting polar ice caps, some tides are receding. Since this is not rocket science, the global warming brigade figured it out: they can't continue to push global warming when the data is not cooporating, so they simply changed the tag line from global warming to "abrupt climate change." If you didn't see the movie, The Day After Tomorrow, it is worth looking at how the media-scrub-machine works, plus the movie is entertaining.

@nooil4pacifists said...

I agree with both M_O_M and Jacobs'. I'm a member of CO2 Science which, for not much money, has gobs of temperature data. Some pages are free, including the highly recommended US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) "station of the week."