Global Warming

 

Sig Carlsen: 11 July 08

Well, I will also take a stab at this subject if for no other reason than to clarify my own thoughts by subjecting them to the unforgiving criticism that generally follows in the wake of  uncritical thinking,  on our class website. And a very good thing too because of the  enormity and controversy of the subject  matter at hand. Let me start with an observation, a universal one that each of us in our own way has learned to be true after a long life. Truth is too often very difficult to find, sometimes impossible, and much too often merely transitory.

Central to the issue of climate change at least in so far as it has been  portrayed or implied by many if not all of the serious commentators demanding draconian changes in our manner of living has been the apocalyptic warning that if we do not follow up on their predictions then man is doomed to extinction in a matter of decades or perhaps in a century. Well, if not doomed fully to extinction as such, then at least civilization as commonly understood will become extinct. Let it be clearly understood that the dimensions of such a charge is inherently very different indeed from anything that man has previously  faced because if we do not change our manner of living then extinction automatically follows. That is signally different from stating that some virus or bacteria might appear on the scene and wipe us all out, or that a giant meteorite suddenly appear and do the same. It is also very different from the prospect of a wide spread nuclear war with its « fatal winter » following in its wake, because man doesn’t necessarily have to engage in such a war in the first place and it might not happen anyway. In other words, the element of chance (and therefore hope) is inherent in such dire suppositions. With climate change the element of chance is totally removed and thus the choice as presented to us is very different because it is so unmistakably clear and unambiguous : it yields to no other option ; either start significantly changing our delightful ways right now  or it will soon be over because the human « experiment » will be finished.

At this point is it really too bold or presumptuous of us mere mortals to ask of those asserting these « facts » and the perilous conclusions flowing therefrom : All right, let us see that you prove what you say to be true is in fact absolutely true and accurate. In fact damn it all, let’s see that you prove your case to the very hilt.  It makes me feel good,  perhaps even righteous to say that. I mean if « they » can be heard to say such dreadful things and seriously be listened to, then at the very least they should  be compelled to prove their case. Therefore let them suffer the burden of proof and not us ! Alas then  further reflection may come forth to chill the mind : what if they can prove their case in a very public and incontrovertible manner, what then ? And what if the time is insufficiently long for that which must be achieved  cannot possibly be achieved ? Do we take a stab at the impossible challenge anyway ? Will the whole place be governable in such an event given our frail instruments of human governance  and the frailty of humanity itself?  Should probable chaos be traded for what we have now ? And on and on we go with each « discipline » having its say etc, etc.

It would seem self evident that the only people who can actually presume to have a serious opinion on the scientific facts  are the very scientists who are actually working and experimenting in the field of climate change. I don’t mean by that the people who project things forward by means of fancy (and undoubtedly flawed  computer programs) but only by the very people who actually can prove the physical phenomena that  are being asserted  with such incredible vigour.  So at this point I really don’t want to hear from the hangers on, the well meaning Nobel winner in some field not directly relevant  to the question at hand who merely wants to lend his support to the  « cause » , the politicians, the policy makers, the writers etc. I certainly don’t need a reminder of or a regurgitation of the whole gamut of the politicization of climate change. The sole question is quite simple really: are there  objective, and knowledgeable  people out there  who can give authorative answers, indeed unequivocal answers to these momentous questions at hand ? Try and find them if you can I say!

For my part I just don’t know and I haven’t met anyone who does know for a certainty about these complicated and intractable matters. But on the other hand I am certainly not prepared to assert that such people and or such experiments do not exist and that the answers are not available. For example, there is a sort of green house doomsday clock often invoked.  It has to do with the level of  CO2 in the atmosphere. It is said to be 387 ppm now, that it was perhaps 250 ppm at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, that the level of CO2 is seriously increasing each year, that 400 ppm is pretty bad and that we will soon reach it no matter what we do, that 500 ppm spells the end etc. It is widely asserted that the greenhouse gas effect is  accurate, that with the exception of a few inconsequential errors of fact explained in « An Inconvenient Truth » the message therein is nevertheless fundamentally correct.  Well of course those  are the very questions to be fully and accurately answered, or we may, and not for the first time fall into pointless circular reasoning.  It may well turn out that there are only some  answers out there, that they cannot really be said to be definitive, that they are at bottom just mere suppositions, but surely that it is better to act on the « safe » side, and somewhat (but not too much mind you) turn the World upside down just in case the proponents of climate change may turn out to be somewhat right. Why after all it will all be done in the name of a worthy cause!

Finally with respect, I agree with the sentiments expressed both by Bill and Peter, for they concord with my own experience and awareness, but admittedly I also have a nagging fear that Emil’s piece on this subject may be right. That in fact the precise science that Emil describes cannot be denied. If that should indeed turn out to be the case then I go back to that CO2 doomsday clock, and here admittedly the computer projections become compelling, and so if the time line available for significant change realistically is quite hopeless, what then can anyone say, do or think ? And  in that dreadful  event my mind becomes overwhelmed, and therefore I must leave it to you and to others to explain how to look at that timeless and priceless symbol of Man and of his future: that lovely and innocent little 5 year old girl playing on the lawn, or in the park, or on your living room floor : your grandchild perhaps.


Peter Kirkham: 10 July 08

To be forthright up front, I belong to the "denier" camp. Given this position, you may not want to post this comment. I won't  take offence. The attachment, a part of an analysis  that I have just completed on  the world oil market, focuses on Canada. The substance of my comment is that Canada will shoot itself in the foot if it blindly goes ahead with the "stupid" proposals currently on the table. Professor Nordhaus, a distinguished Yale professor, has modelled the climate
change proposals, including  environmental initiatives  proposed, and concludes that the world  will be making a mistake, as a society, by rushing into things we do not understand. (and if anyone thinks they understand anything, I refer them to the reference "Fuzzy Thinking" by Bart Kosko).

As I say Bill, it is your choice to post or not post. My basic position is we should not be, as individuals or as a class, doctrinaire about such matters.

Peter, my personal concern is my agreement with those who describe how Global Warming has morphed into a religion, with Al Gore as High Priest. As with all religions, the deniers, the heretics, the infidels, whoever, must be silenced. Even our universities, which are supposed to be bastions of free, open, "academic" debate, must censor certain speakers for fear of campus protests or even riots.

Global warming and cooling are factual; global temperatures have been measured over many decades. That there are multiple causes of these cycles also appears to be factual, but the weighting of those causes remains open to debate, as does the probable effect of many of the actions proposed by the various proactive groups.

At the moment, I would describe our governments as being in stalling mode, something they do do very well, going to conferences and taking small ineffectual actions. B.C.'s carbon tax is a case in point. With gasoline already at $1.50+, how much effect will another 2.4 cents really have? It's simply a tax grab and people will begin to see climate action as a series of tax grabs, resulting in a drop in their standard of living. And, the governments hope, the tide of public opinion will slowly turn. ...WIH

(Note: I had trouble with Peter's opus. It contained a chart that simply refused to move into hypertext. I've therefore eliminated the chart and all references to it but I believe that his concluding paragraphs speak for themselves - at least to an economist. ...WIH)

CANADA

22. Where does Canada stand in all of these developments. It is running a modest trade surplus related to exported oil, and other energy products. Unless offset by direct foreign investment by Canadians ( abroad), the CA should be modestly in surplus, giving a bias towards a rising Canadian/US exchange rate. (Monetary authorities may, or may not, choose to lean against a further rise in the dollar).

 

24. The oil price situation has created an anomaly, in terms of the above trend expectations. The production of oil represents a transformation of oil wealth from a real product (in the ground) state, into a financial (monetary) asset form. In the process, given rising oil prices, the transformed value has exceeded its previous expected wealth value (when it was in the ground). This additional value is being captured (over and above the secular trend value), on a one-time basis, in the value of the S&P/TSX. Factoring this increased value into the S&P/TSX index suggests that a 12% to 13% increase in the TSX could be justified by a trend growth rate of 7% in the non-commodity component, combined with a growth rate of some 20% in the commodity (including oil) sector.

25.  This latter calculation implies that the S&P/TSX index could have a fair value in the 14,000 range, not far from its current value. As long as we can expect oil prices, and other commodity prices, to continue their rates of current price increase, a growth rate of 12%, or so, may be fully justified for the index. If prices were to continue to increase at more modest rates, from the current level of oil prices (but oil prices did not fall back), one would expect the TSX index to increase at a slower rate, from its current level. But it should not rationally fall back from its current level, unless the investing public acts on an emotional level to such a change.

26. Unfortunately, there is a Black Swan waiting in the wings. If governments, or other regulatory authorities, act, by implementing  environmental changes, changes in cap-and-trade or other  carbon tax schemes, or any other change that essentially confiscates substantial parts of future commodity cash flows, there will be a significant melt down in commodity company capital values, that will be directly reflected in the value of the S&P/TSX. These values have already been capitalized into the current index value. Confiscation could cause the index to easily fall some 2000 points or more, reflecting a re-evaluated capital value for commodity firms. The fallout from such a development would spread throughout the Canadian economy. Every citizen who has a pension plan would be impacted by falling stock market prices. The ripple effect would reach all sectors of the economy. This uncertainty will undoubtedly affect the market going forward.

27. Further, the overall index value masks the very differing current expected performances of the various sectors of the market.  The non-commodity sectors will under perform. The Canadian financial sector is likely to be weak for another 18 to 24 months, after which it may have considerable upside potential. Our choices are fraught with uncertainty and risk.


Roger Pielke, Jr., Financial Post  (Sig's Recommendation)


Emil Bizon: 19 June 08

I was somewhat taken aback by the piece you posted by John Coleman. I had not heard of this person and there must be dozens with the same name but I quickly tracked him down as a TV weatherman in San Diego. None the less, one should not take an ad hominem attitude to him and look at what he is putting out.

So the first discordant note is his statement that high gasoline prices are due only to Al Gore and his campaign on global warming. As if the US invasion of Iraq and the apparent intent to attack Iran with their air weapons was totally benign in this relationship.

He talks about the great improvement in engine efficiency and the lower output of pollutants from today's motors. Well, the discussion is not about pollution but CO2 and there has not been a reduction in that for thirty years because the good citizens of our neighbor to the south have an innate right to drive their three ton trucks and SUVs just like the red necks of Alberta.

The phenomenon of solar radiation and greenhouse heating is explained quite nicely in a Heat Transfer text, authored by JP Holman, which I acquired a while ago. It was published in 1981, well before the topic of warming was current. Holman makes a neat statement. He starts by saying that " solar radiation, outside our atmosphere, has a dominant wave length of 0.5µm. In a greenhouse, ordinary glass transmits almost without loss, all energy below 2 µm but is essentially opaque to radiation longer than 3 or 4 µm. Practically all the low temperature radiation emitted by objects in the greenhouse is of such a long- wavelength character that it remains trapped in the greenhouse." The temperature in the greenhouse will rise to and equilibrium point where the increase in re-radiation due to rising internal temperature balances the incoming radiant flux.

It is worthwhile to have a feel for the quantities involved. The solar constant- the radiation when the earth is at its mean distance from the sun- is 1395 W/m˛. This is a big number. At the earth's surface this reduces to 1063 W/m˛. The primary absorption band in the atmosphere is at around 10 µm; as we all know, CO2 lasers operate at 10.2 µm for a reason. This wavelength corresponds exactly with the peak radiation from the earth.

It is a simple calculation from these basics to determine the increase in energy retained by the atmosphere and the earth's surface and to estimate the temperature rise of the interface. This calculation agrees well with observation . The increase in CO2 to 385 ppm from something like 250 ppm has a real effect and it is quite silly to deny this. Although there are other things working here it is undeniable that an increase in CO2 results in a significant increase in the surface temperature of the earth.

One should note that the denial of global warming was the policy of Exxon Corp. This was in line with conserving their annual profit of $40 billion. Other oil companies- BP, Shell, Conoco-Philips have seen the light.

Of course, we will now see the Bush/Harper forces launching a massive disinformation campaign against a carbon tax. It will be interesting to see if Canadians are taken in by this remarkably manipulative duo.


Sig Carlsen: 18 June 08

I salute you for posting that piece on climate change. Probably I should be the last one in our class to have a serious opinion on such a technical subject, although admittedly I was going to take a stab at it. That is until I read a piece in this morning's National Post and in Financial Post (June 17th) by Roger Pielke Jr. on the subject matter, which in my view should be posted on you web site if possible. Anyway if there is some technical means (and it would be lawful) for you to post it then I would recommend that you do so. In my opinion that article ought to be read and fully understood and serve as a background before anyone can reasonably presume to discuss the subject of climate change. Speaking of which I am happy to report that after some 3 weeks here of constant heavy daily rains and miserable and nasty cold weather we finally have sunshine and I'm out on the tractor etc., and more importantly Jane's flowers and the seeds that she planted are finally showing some results. Also I should mention that it is "interesting" to be driving $8 gas here, and all so very unnecessary to boot.


Global Warming and the Price of a Gallon of Gas
by John Coleman

You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas.  It is shocking, but true, to learn that the entire Global Warming frenzy is based on the environmentalist’s attack on fossil fuels, particularly gasoline.  All this big time science, international meetings, thick research papers, dire threats for the future; all of it, comes down to their claim that the carbon dioxide in the exhaust from your car and in the smoke stacks from our power plants is destroying the climate of planet Earth.  What an amazing fraud; what a scam.

The future of our civilization lies in the balance. 

That’s the battle cry of the High Priest of Global Warming Al Gore and his fellow, agenda driven disciples as they predict a calamitous outcome from anthropogenic global warming.  According to Mr. Gore the polar ice caps will collapse and melt and sea levels will rise 20 feet inundating the coastal cities making 100 million of us refugees.  Vice President Gore tells us numerous Pacific islands will be totally submerged and uninhabitable.  He tells us global warming will disrupt the circulation of the ocean waters, dramatically changing climates, throwing the world food supply into chaos. He tells us global warming will turn hurricanes into super storms, produce droughts, wipe out the polar bears and result in bleaching of coral reefs. He tells us tropical diseases will spread to mid latitudes and heat waves will kill tens of thousands.  He preaches to us that we must change our lives and eliminate fossil fuels or face the dire consequences.  The future of our civilization is in the balance.

With a preacher’s zeal, Mr. Gore sets out to strike terror into us and our children and make us feel we are all complicit in the potential demise of the planet.

Here is my rebuttal.

There is no significant man made global warming.  There has not been any in the past, there is none now and there is no reason to fear any in the future. The climate of Earth is changing. It has always changed.  But mankind’s activities have not overwhelmed or significantly modified the natural forces.

Through all history, Earth has shifted between two basic climate regimes: ice ages and what paleoclimatologists call “Interglacial periods”.  For the past 10 thousand years the Earth has been in an interglacial period.  That might well be called nature’s global warming because what happens during an interglacial period is the Earth warms up, the glaciers melt and life flourishes. Clearly from our point of view, an interglacial period is greatly preferred to the deadly rigors of an ice age.   Mr. Gore and his crowd would have us believe that the activities of man have overwhelmed nature during this interglacial period and are producing an unprecedented, out of control warming. 

Well, it is simply not happening.   Worldwide there was a significant natural warming trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a Solar cycle peaked with lots of sunspots and solar flares.  That ended in 1998 and now the Sun has gone quiet with fewer and fewer Sun spots, and the global temperatures have gone into decline.  Earth has cooled for almost ten straight years.  So, I ask Al Gore, where’s the global warming?

The cooling trend is so strong that recently the head of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had to acknowledge it.  He speculated that nature has temporarily overwhelmed mankind’s warming and it may be ten years or so before the warming returns.  Oh, really.  We are supposed to be in a panic about man-made global warming and the whole thing takes a ten year break because of the lack of Sun spots.  If this weren’t so serious, it would be laughable.

Now allow me to talk a little about the science behind the global warming frenzy. I have dug through thousands of pages of research papers, including the voluminous documents published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  I have worked my way through complicated math and complex theories. Here’s the bottom line: the entire global warming scientific case is based on the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels.   They don’t have any other issue.   Carbon Dioxide, that’s it.

Hello Al Gore; Hello UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Your science is flawed; your hypothesis is wrong; your data is manipulated.  And, may I add, your scare tactics are deplorable.   The Earth does not have a fever.   Carbon dioxide does not cause significant global warming.

The focus on atmospheric carbon dioxide grew out a study by Roger Revelle who was an esteemed scientist at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute. He took his research with him when he moved to Harvard and allowed his students to help him process the data for his paper.  One of those students was Al Gore. That is where Gore got caught up in this global warming frenzy.  Revelle’s paper linked the increases in carbon dioxide, CO2, in the atmosphere with warming.  It labeled CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

Charles Keeling, another researcher at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, set up a system to make continuous CO2 measurements.  His graph of these increases has now become known as the Keeling Curve.  When Charles Keeling died in 2005, his son David, also at Scripps, took over the measurements.  Here is what the Keeling curve shows: an increase in CO2 from 315 parts per million in 1958 to 385 parts per million today, an increase of 70 parts per million or about 20 percent.

All the computer models, all of the other findings, all of the other angles of study, all come back to and are based on CO2 as a significant greenhouse gas. It is not.

Here is the deal about CO2, carbon dioxide.  It is a natural component of our atmosphere.  It has been there since time began.  It is absorbed and emitted by the oceans.  It is used by every living plant to trigger photosynthesis.  Nothing would be green without it.  And we humans; we create it.  Every time we breathe out, we emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is not a pollutant. It is not smog. It is a naturally occurring invisible gas. 

Let me illustrate. I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere.   Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2; 38 out of a hundred thousand.  That makes it a trace component.  Let me ask a key question: how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth?  It can’t.   That’s all there is to it; it can’t.

The UN IPCC has attracted billions of dollars for the research to try to make the case that CO2 is the culprit of run-away, man-made global warming.  The scientists have come up with very complex creative theories and done elaborate calculations and run computer models they say prove those theories. They present us with a concept they call radiative forcing. The research organizations and scientists who are making a career out of this theory, keep cranking out the research papers. Then the IPCC puts on big conferences at exotic places, such as the recent conference in Bali. The scientists endorse each other’s
papers, they are summarized and voted on, and viola, we are told global warming is going to kill us all unless we stop burning fossil fuels.

May I stop here for a few historical notes?  First, the internal combustion engine and gasoline were awful polluters when they were first invented.  And, both gasoline and automobile engines continued to leave a layer of smog behind right up through the 1960’s.  Then science and engineering came to the environmental rescue.  Better exhaust and ignition systems, catalytic converters, fuel injectors, better engineering throughout the engine and reformulated gasoline have all contributed to a huge reduction in the exhaust emissions from today’s cars. Their goal then was to  only exhaust carbon dioxide and water
vapor, two gases widely accepted as natural and totally harmless.  Anyone old enough to remember the pall of smog that used to hang over all our cities knows how much improvement there has been.  So the environmentalists, in their battle against fossil fuels and automobiles had a very good point forty years ago, but now they have to focus almost entirely on the once harmless carbon dioxide.  And, that is the rub.  Carbon dioxide is not an environmental problem; they just want you now to think it is. 

Numerous independent research projects have been done about the greenhouse impact from increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.  These studies have proven to my total satisfaction that CO2 is not creating a major greenhouse effect and is not causing an increase in temperatures.  By the way, before his death, Roger Revelle coauthored a paper cautioning that CO2 and its greenhouse effect did not warrant extreme countermeasures.

So now it has come down to an intense campaign, orchestrated by environmentalists claiming that the burning of fossil fuels dooms the planet to run-away global warming.  Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a
myth.

So how has the entire global warming frenzy with all its predictions of dire consequences, become so widely believed, accepted and regarded as a real threat to planet Earth?  That is the most amazing part of the story. 

To start with global warming has the backing of the United Nations, a major world force.  Second, it has the backing of a former Vice President and very popular political figure.  Third it has the endorsement of Hollywood, and that’s enough for millions. And, fourth, the environmentalists love global warming.  It is their tool to combat fossil fuels. So with the environmentalists, the UN, Gore and Hollywood touting Global Warming and predictions of doom and gloom, the media has scrambled with excitement to climb aboard.  After all the media loves a crisis.  From YK2 to killer bees the media just loves to tell us our lives are threatened. And the media is biased toward liberal, so it’s pre-programmed to support Al Gore and UN.  CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press and here in San Diego The Union Tribune are all constantly promoting the global warming crisis. 

So who is going to go against all of that power?  Not the politicians. So now the President of the United States, just about every Governor, most Senators and most Congress people, both of the major current candidates for President, most other elected officials on all levels of government are all riding the Al Gore Global Warming express.  That is one crowded bus. 

I suspect you haven’t heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue.  On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released.  Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds.  Think about that.  Thirty-one thousand.  That dwarfs the supposed 2,500 scientists on the UN panel. In the past year, five hundred of scientists have issued public statements challenging global warming.    A few more join the chorus every week.   There are about 100 defectors from the UN IPCC.  There was an International Conference of Climate Change Skeptics in New York in March of this year.  One hundred of us gave presentations.  Attendance was limited to six hundred people.  Every seat was taken. There are a half dozen excellent internet sites that debunk global warming.  And, thank goodness for KUSI and Michael McKinnon, its owner.  He allows me to post my comments on global warming on the website KUSI.com.  Following the publicity of my position form Fox News, Glen Beck on CNN, Rush Limbaugh and a host of other interviews, thousands of people come to the website and read my comments.  I get hundreds of supportive emails from them.  No I am not alone and the debate is not over. 

In my remarks in New York I speculated that perhaps we should sue Al Gore for fraud because of his carbon credits trading scheme.  That remark has caused a stir in the fringe media and on the internet.  The concept is that if the media won’t give us a hearing and the other side will not debate us, perhaps we could use a Court of law to present our papers and our research and if the Judge is unbiased and understands science, we win.  The media couldn’t ignore that. That idea has become the basis for legal research by notable attorneys and discussion among global warming debunkers, but it’s a long way from the Court room.

I am very serious about this issue.   I think stamping out the global warming scam is vital to saving our wonderful way of life.

The battle against fossil fuels has controlled policy in this country for decades. It was the environmentalist’s prime force in blocking any drilling for oil in this country and the blocking the building of any new refineries, as well. So now the shortage they created has sent gasoline prices soaring. And, it has lead to the folly of ethanol, which is also partly behind the fuel price increases; that and our restricted oil policy.  The ethanol folly is also creating a food crisis throughput the world – it is behind the food price rises for all the grains, for cereals, bread, everything that relies on corn or soy or wheat, including animals that are fed corn, most processed foods that use corn oil or soybean oil or corn syrup. Food shortages or high costs have led to food riots in some third world countries and made the cost of eating out or at home budget busting for many.

So now the global warming myth actually has lead to the chaos we are now enduring with energy and food prices. We pay for it every time we fill our gas tanks.  Not only is it running up gasoline prices, it has changed government policy impacting our taxes, our utility bills and the entire focus of government funding. And, now the Congress is considering a cap and trade carbon credits policy.  We the citizens will pay for that, too. It all ends up in our taxes and the price of goods and services.

So the Global warming frenzy is, indeed, threatening our civilization.  Not because global warming is real; it is not.  But because of the all the horrible side effects of the global warming scam. 

I love this civilization.  I want to do my part to protect it.

If Al Gore and his global warming scare dictates the future policy of our governments, the current economic downturn could indeed become a recession, drift into a depression and our modern civilization could fall into an abyss. And it would largely be a direct result of the global warming frenzy.


My mission, in what is left of a long and exciting lifetime, is to stamp out this Global Warming silliness and let all of us get on with enjoying our lives and loving our planet, Earth.

 

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