Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Truth About Global Warming

Andrew Coyne has one of the best articles explaining the difficulties of untangling the arguments about AGW that I have read. It is titled Coyne on Climategate. The Truth is out there. Somewhere. I recommend a full read. But I also offer a few comments. To my friends on the right who doubt AGW, I offer the following two incontrovertible facts. Carbon dioxide is one of the green house gases that keeps the earth livable by raising the temperature above the black body equilibrium. Levels of CO2 have been rising steadily in a measurable and statistically significant manner for at least fifty years, for a total increase on the order of 35%. It is therefore unscientific and unreasonable to presume that this results in zero impact on earth's climate. How much impact, and how catastrophic, are of course subject to debate.

To those on the left who might be reading I offer this. The science is not settled. Eminent scientists such as Freeman Dyson, who offer nuanced critiques of AGW, are not ignorant "denialists" in the pay of energy companies. The magnitude of past and present warming is very difficult to measure, the use of modeling and proxies only makes the issues more complex. To say that the added CO2 in the atmosphere will result in catastrophe is certain to stretch credulity, when much is still unknown about other sources of climate change. I offer as trump card the following. Prior to the current age, the Holocene, the earth has gone through a series of ice ages only briefly interrupted by warm period such as ours, and the general trend of each ice age has been to be colder than the prior one. And no one has a widely accepted theory as to why. If this widely known phenomenon can not be explained by the models in use by global warming advocates today, we categorically can not put full faith in predictions of disaster.

Which brings us to the political part of the equation. The debate would not be so important if the left had not seized the science to argue, ex cathedra, that we must trust the science and that the only possible solution is a new world socialist order. Even if the science was settled, and it is not, the question of how to proceed is primarily a political and not a scientific question. Better for all parties to have a debate about the best shape of policy that admits to the possibility of some error in the scientific consensus. That way the scientists could cease to be advocates and perform real science and we would debating the issue in the realm of politics and economics, where policy should be debated.


  1. CO2 levels not so cut and dried.

    Beyond that, we ain't even playin' t-ball in the major leagues of CO2.

    Not sure if I shared Coyote's paper with you. I think you'd like his blog.

    (Foxfier, Nekofan, Wulf, Wollf, KT Cat, Coyote... dang, I end up with a buncha animals. ;^p )

  2. For those of us on the right, citing an increase of 35% increase in CO2 over the last 50 years as incontrovertible would have a bit more credence if it were backed up by a valid scientific source. While I do believe in global climate change as a fact of life for our planet, I am not convinced of man's part in the entire process. So if you want to state "incontrovertible proof" please add the source of that proof for validity otherwise you are giving us more Gore-like "facts".

  3. Paul, sorry, I normally link my facts, but I have blogged this topic several times, including that particular fact.

    Understand that the issue is how does the current rise in CO2 compare to historic levels greater than 50 years ago. When I looked at this data when you linked it on a previous post, the year on year variations were too large for one to take the data seriously. I really like the last link, Coyote's, because his view is closest to mine, that "something" is going on, but it is unlikely to be as catastrophic as predicted, therefor no need to wreck the economy over hysterical predictions that are unlikely to pan out.

  4. How do you know the year on year variations are too large?

    Because the "reconstructed" data you believe says so?

    Far more likely is that CO2, which is produced by a huge range of natural sources, is a highly variable component of atmosphere.

    Just as you'll get a different measurement for temperature in the middle of a black-topped parking lot, surrounded by running cars, than you would in the middle of a meadow.

  5. See page 6 of the paper for why ignoring direct measurements in favor of theorized-by-proxy ones is a bad idea-- when a large sample says the same thing, it's a good idea to at least listen.

  6. As long as the left has highjacked the "consensus" argument, there will be no real debate.

    Ms. Fier, I will take some time to read your links. I have a bunch saved in my favorites from prior comments responding to Mr. Lloyd.