For today's discussion on Global Warming, I reprint (with permission) an article that will appear in "The General" a student publication of the Wooster School in Danbury CT. The Wooster School is a K-12 College Prep school and the following article is by Editor in Chief of The General, Junior Carl Wolk
Growing Doubts over the Extent
of Anthropogenic Warming
by Carl Wolk
“Time” magazine recently declared to the world, “In the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended. Global warming, even most skeptics have concluded, is the real deal, and human activity has been causing it.” This statement is the epitome of misinformation thrown daily at the American public by the media and those in power; not only has “the serious debate” continued to rage on, but the arguments presented by the skeptics are rock solid in their scientific foundations, and should be closely examined.
To understand fully what factors are at play, it is critical to understand the behavioral cycles of the earth’s temperatures. Every 100,000 years or so, the earth enters an Ice Age, only to reemerge into a warm period. Many environmentalists point to the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and global temperature follow the exact same trend, implying that the increase in CO2 levels that the atmosphere has recently undergone will cause a jump in temperatures, just as it did in the past. Yet this is very misleading, as the idea comes from the assumption that the earth’s temperature is dependent on CO2 concentration, when in fact, it is just the opposite. Ice ages actually suppress CO2 levels: colder oceans absorb more CO2, and larger ice caps reduce the CO2 exchange with the atmosphere.
Between 1100 AD and 1250 AD, the Medieval Maximum, in which the sun was especially strong, brought about a worldwide warming period, which was followed by the Little Ice Age (1650-1850). The Little Ice Age was brought about by the “Maunder Minimum,” which was accompanied by few sunspots, less irradiance, and low magnetism. Since then, solar activity has increased to its highest level in eight-thousand years (Sami Solanki), producing much of the warming we have experienced since 1850.
For a long time, scientists have recognized the correlation between solar intensity and global temperatures, but because they lacked the ability to explain scientifically how that relationship functions, little credibility had been given to the argument. Recently, however, a connection has been found—one that could spell the death of the Greenhouse theory.
When solar sunspots are at their peak, the plasma solar winds around the earth also increase in intensity. These solar winds block cosmic rays (rays of energy from imploded stars), which enter the earth’s atmosphere and react with nitrogen, creating carbon-14 (C-14) atoms and liberating electrons. Those electrons then ionize other molecules that cluster together in a chain reaction to condense water molecules, thus creating clouds.
During the Medieval Warm Period, C-14 levels dropped to a minimum, coinciding with a temperature and solar sunspot maximum. During the Little Ice Age, C-14 levels hit a maximum, and now during the modern warm period, C-14 levels have decreased to another minimum, this one about 40% more powerful than the minimum that occurred during the Medieval Warm Period.
This chain reaction has created an undeniable reduction in low-altitude cloud cover; in only the last five years, we have seen a 2% decrease in low-altitude cloud cover, which is estimated to increase the earth’s overall temperature by 1.2 watts per square meter (Henrik Svensmark). To put this in perspective, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims that the increased CO2 levels have caused a 1.4 watts per square meter increase in heat. Yet it seems as though this effect of solar activity alone can account for 1.2 watt per square meter of warming. [See Sunspot vs. Temperature vs. CO2 Concentration Graph. Click image to enlarge it]
The impact on solely low-altitude cloud coverage also explains why the earth’s surface is warming, while the lower stratosphere has remained relatively cool—something that the Greenhouse theory fails to explain, and in fact suggests that the exact opposite should happen.
Something else ignored by knee-jerk environmentalists is negative feedback. Negative feedback mechanisms are what keep the earth from having a runaway climate, much like that on Venus, where the planet’s temperature spirals out of control due to its close proximity to the Sun. If these negative feedback mechanisms did not exist, the annual northern summer heating cycle would never end, and the earth would continually warm. These feedback loops would also prevent suggested future climate change from anthropogenic warming, for the earth would undergo changes in winds and other natural climate effects as it does every several hundred years, and dip down to another mildly cool period.
An important issue raised concerning data currently under consideration is the inadequate account for Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE). In and around cities, air surface temperatures can be considerably greater than in the surrounding area because of cement, buildings, and other heat-trapping surfaces and shapes. The concern is that the data from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the most-used global temperature data set, is very inaccurate because its censors are located near cities and airports and thus only measure near-surface temperatures, which means that the cooling in the stratosphere is being ignored.
An alternative data set is the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU), which uses a space-based, satellite-employing technique that eliminates UHIE and accounts for tropospheric cooling. The difference between the two data sets is astounding; there is a 0.9324 degree Fahrenheit disagreement between MSU and GISS data, leading many to believe that a portion of the warming the earth has undergone has not even actually occurred.
UHIE is important to keep in mind because it is responsible for some of the 0.3 degree Celsius warming that we think we have seen since 1975. Surely, CO2 emissions may account for some warming, but another theory exists that is still under consideration. The post-WWII aerosol load of Cold War booming economies and atomic bomb testing may have added to reflective particle loads in the atmosphere (known as albedo), which masked warming from an increase in solar intensity. Many believe that the warming the earth is currently undergoing is a “catch-up” from a clearing atmosphere.
Another misleading trend that has become popular among environmentalist activists is the use of anecdotal evidence. For example, Greenpeace released images of a retreating glacier in Argentina in an attempt to show the disastrous effects of global warming on nature. Yet the organization left out the fact that four of the six glaciers in Argentina are relatively unchanged, and the other glacier has actually grown by 60%.
The media further perpetuates the global warming hysteria by making claims such as this: “99.9% of scientists say we know what is going on” (the Discovery Channel). Yet more than 17,000 scientists, including 2,100 climatologists, signed the Oregon Petition stating, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's climate.”
So before our economy is devoted entirely to halting global warming, maybe we should consider on what sort of evidence we are acting. The impulsive, over simplistic, environmentalist movement uses inflamed and consistently inaccurate models (with dubious models within the models) based on flawed data, while ignoring negative feedback elements, albedo, UHIE, and solar variability, all to support an alarmist movement in Western culture.