December 21, 2004
Hot airBy Timothy Birdnow
Back in the days of Jimmy Carter and killer rabbits, doomsayers were telling us that the Earth was slipping into new ice age, and that we were all going to die. Survivalists ran for the hills while stuffed—shirt academics ordered extra elbow patches for their sweaters and tut—tutted about the foolishness of the American people. This particular hysteria was fueled by a couple of cooler—than—normal winters, and the doomsday prophets gleefully told us to prepare for the end. By the beginning of the 1980`s the temperature trends had changed and global cooling went out of fashion, replaced by a trendier doomsday scenario: global warming.
Once again, the sky is falling and we are all going to die. We have heard this mantra repeatedly for the last twenty years, and from some of the same people who promised us igloos and a twelve—month skiing season. Those same academics are removing their sweaters, cranking down the AC, and tut—tutting about the foolishness of the American people. We have been treated to a smorgasbord of half—baked ideas; the oceans will overflow, the ice will all melt and we'll have no more snow, tropical diseases will run rampant. Our only slim hope for survival lies in adopting the Kyoto Protocols. We simply must live poorer — cut back, sacrifice, use less. This sounds remarkably like what we heard in the 1970's from the Club of Rome study on the limits to growth, driven by the supposed imminent exhaustion of most major raw materials. The disease diagnosis changes, but the cure is always the same.
Global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions (principally carbon dioxide) was first proposed based on studies of the planet Venus. Venus is at a temperature of 900 some odd degrees because its heavy (100 times as dense as Earth`s) atmosphere holds most of the heat the planet receives. Environmentalist scientists applied this model to Earth and decided that we face disaster. (Note that Carl Sagan, a staunch proponent of the nuclear freeze movement, used Mars similarly to 'prove' mankind could not survive a nuclear war. Newer science shows Sagan's 'nuclear winter' thesis was full of hot air.) They claim that industry, especially here in these United States, is changing the climate. Back in the early 1980's they said we had only twenty more years.
There is much disagreement among data compiled from measurements of sea temperatures and satellite observations. Sea temperature measurements (done by fishermen for extra cash, so we can be very confident in their accuracy) show rising temperatures globally, while satellite data actually shows an ever—so—slight cooling. For further analysis go here and here .
The Earth's climate changes all the time because the Earth is not a static thing, and neither is our Sun. Our atmosphere is renewed regularly by volcanic eruptions (and we should be grateful; little volcanism is part of why Mars has such a thin atmosphere!) and it has changed enormously through the eons. Originally it was largely composed of Methane and CO2. During the Jurassic period the atmosphere was thicker and contained more oxygen than it does now, allowing land animals to grow to gargantuan sizes. There were no ice caps during the Jurassic, and we have found tropical plant fossils in Antarctica and Greenland frozen under the ice. We all know about the Ice Ages, which were interspersed with interglacial warm periods (we're in an interglacial period now). In the historical era we have clear examples of random climate change. During the Middle Ages wine grapes grew in Britain and olive trees in Germany because the temperatures were warmer then. This was called the Medieval Warming Period. This ended in 1645 to be followed by what has been called the Mini Ice Age which lasted until 1715. Wine ceased to be a British product because of the much colder temperatures of this period (2 degrees or so below our current levels worldwide).
We have seen a slight warming in the last thirty years and suddenly the sky is falling. We supposedly have no choice but to give up this foolish consumer/capitalist civilization and return to the life of frolicking among the daisies in our homespun duds, living a simple, communal, low energy life.
The eruption of one volcano gives off more greenhouse gas than is released through emissions by mankind in an entire year. The whole greenhouse global warming argument is fatuous. With 3% of all CO2 in the atmosphere being our fault, we simply aren't putting out that much stuff to affect our climate.
There is something the enviro—nuts have chosen to forget. The sun is not static. All of their models assume a static energy output from the sun. Our sun is a yellow dwarf star (spectral class G2) and is fairly stable for a small star. Fairly stable, but not entirely stable. Sol is not a variable star, but occasionally it becomes more active. This increase in activity is evidenced by heavy sunspot activity. Sunspots are cooler patches on the sun, surrounded by hotter patches called faculae. When the sun becomes more active it develops more sunspots (and more of the faculae, which put out more energy to Earth.)
The fusion process in our sun is not fully understood. One theory suggests that fusion stops inside the sun periodically. The sun is a ball of gas, with fusion occurring in the center of the ball because of the immense pressure and high temperatures. When hydrogen inside the sun goes into fusion mode, it expands the ball of gas outward. This, in turn, reduces the pressure inside and may shut the fusion process down. The Sun continues to radiate because of friction caused by the gravitational collapse of the gas. When the pressure reaches a crescendo the fusion process starts again. The fusion cycle is evidenced, the theory goes, by a period of heavy sunspot activity. Sunspots cycles run every eleven years. We have seen a gradual increase in the number of sunspots with each cycle. More sunspots mean more energy radiating from the sun.
Dr. Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute first proposed that the sun could be the cause of Global Warming. He studied layers of Beryllium in ice cores taken from Greenland to learn about the sunspot cycles. Beryllium is formed when ionized particles from the sun strike the Earth's atmosphere; this gives us an historical record of solar activity over the last fifteen thousand years. Every warm period, and every cooler period, coincided with periods of heavy sunspot activity. According to the Institute of Astronomy in Zurich sunspot activity is reaching the highest level it has been in the last thousand years. It reached its nadir during the Maunder Minimum, which happened to coincide with the Little Ice Age. Go here to read more.
Since 8700 BC there have been at least ten cold periods, and all have coincided with quiet solar activity. In short, any minor increase in temperature we see today is caused by a more active sun. This explains why atmospheric temperatures aren't rising while ocean temperatures are. If CO2 emissions were causing global warming we would see a rise in the temperature of the atmosphere first (where energy is being trapped) followed by a rise in ocean temperatures. That our situation is the reverse strongly suggests that this phenomenon is being caused by the sun; we are seeing a rise in ocean temperatures because the oceans act as thermal mass, catching the stronger solar energy and holding it while the atmosphere is allowing heat to leave at a normal rate. This also explains why we have the hole in the ozone layer at the poles; the sun is putting out more ionized particles (called the solar wind) which are being caught in the Earth's magnetic field and whisked around to where those fields make contact with the Earth (the magnetic poles). It should be obvious why the ozone is damaged at the poles; it is being struck by electrically charged particles at very high speeds.
Many scientists, Solanki included, claim the increase in solar activity is not enough. Solanki thinks the solar wind may be forming extra clouds, giving increased insulation. Dr. Henrik Svensmark of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen says plainly that sunspot cycles alone account for global warming. Conservationist David Bellamy agrees, 'Global warming — at least the modern nightmare version — is a myth.' In fact, according to Dr. Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard—Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics we may be entering another cool period. These warming trends tend to last between 200 and 300 years, and so where does that leave us?
Why, then, this lemming—like rush into the Kyoto quagmire? We don't even understand the data we have. Global warming gurus keep pushing, and keep adjusting their models to 'prove' that we are dooming ourselves. We simply have no reason to believe any of this. We have seen no rise in sea levels.
Kyoto is all about politics. It is about hamstringing the U.S. economy to allow weaker markets to compete. The Times of London has an article stating that Prime Minister Tony Blair is going to pressure the United States to accept 'Kyoto lite.' a slightly weaker version of the Kyoto Accords. The big prize is getting the U.S. to concede the false science.
Science is apparently no longer the objective pursuit of truth, but rather a matter of political consensus. Galileo would recognize the phenomenon. The left has always believed that reality is whatever they can get people to believe, so by pushing a treaty with a 'scientific consensus' written into it, they have defined a de facto truth. Once it is accepted, they can begin pushing their socialist agenda on us.
That is the nub of the matter. The global warming scare is a political maneuver to economically damage the United States and install a global top—down command—and—control regime to make our economic decisions. Why haven't the signatories of Kyoto been able to fulfill their own commitments to emission reduction? Because they have no intention of spending one red cent on the environment; it has never been about that. The left has found in environmentalism the perfect con: all human activity effects the environment in some fashion.
For example, cattle cause considerable pollution. They damage riverbanks, pollute the water with feces, and emit methane (a greenhouse gas). Under a strict environmentalist policy we would have to seriously restrict our beef production (sound familiar) forcing us to eat soy, rice, and tofu with our green tea — just what the moonbeam left has always wanted. The neo—commissars need to tell us how to live, in order to achieve personal fulfillment. Automobiles put out carbon monoxide and, therefore, should be banned in favor of public transportation. In fact, people put out CO2 so strict population controls must be put in place. There is no end to the madness if we allow ourselves to be led down this trail.
I will admit that there have been cases in the past where societies have destroyed their environments. The natives of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) cut down all of their trees to move those big heads (those heads remind me of several Democrats — Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, for example, but I digress) and then killed each other fighting over the food that remained, after all the soil washed away and the birds stopped coming. The Mayan Indians were forced to move after they exhausted the land through over—cultivation. North Africa was once not as desolate as it is now; overgrazing caused massive desertification. We can put ourselves permanently out of business on a local and regional level.
It is much more likely, however, that we will destroy our spirit and our wealth through the adoption of draconian measures advocated by the socialist climate change people. The real horror would be to adopt the madness of Kyoto to tilt at the windmill of global warming, when the sun is the real culprit. We can't fight the sun. Our ability to cope depends on the vigor of our science and economy, so crippling ourselves into a neo—Luddite dystopia is exactly the wrong thing to do. We must not rush headlong into the abyss of environmental shadows.
Timothy Birdnow's blog can be found at Tbirdblog.blogspot.com