Monday, April 9, 2007

Extraplanetary Warming

Maybe not since the days of the Army McCarthy Hearings has there been such a rabid explosion of furor over such an issue. Global warming is not just a scientific contention; it involves constitutional and political issues. Just last week, it took a Supreme Court decision to inform a president that global warming exists. I'm not arguing its existence; I'm just wondering what part of the Constitution puts scientific discovery in the hands of the courts.

To even question one aspect of global warming is to be found guilty of heresy in an inquisition that would make Torquemada envious. A local weatherman makes a joke about global warming; suddenly, he has been re-assigned. To work with the major national weather networks, one has to buy the whole case, lock, stock, and barrel. Anyone who would question it is branded as archaic, uninformed, and incapable of thought.

So then I read that Mars is having the same problem we are having. In the time we have been observing the planet since the 1970's the average temperature of the planet has gone up nearly a degree, and environmentalists will readily tell you that's a whole lot! -- especially when we're talking about our own planet. One might even venture that Mars has experienced the same degree of warming as has our own earth. It seems to me that the basic principles of scientific investigation would come into play here (we called it the "scientific method" when I was in junior high). If we would really like to see what's causing a phenomenon, let's isolate the effects of that phenomenon and compare influences.

Hmmm. Let's see. What do Earth and Mars have in common? Pollution? Industrialization? Deforestation? Population explosion? How about all those cattle burping methane into the atmosphere? I have looked closely at the issue, and it appears that only one variable applies to both planets: we orbit the same sun. We have known for many years that Old Sol is rather unstable. El NiƱo himself depends on that fickleness. Is it just remotely possible that just maybe the Sun is at least a player in this whole global warming thing?

A few years back, Hollywood and the environmental extremists (fundamentalists?) worked together to produce a movie to deal with the first "inconvenient truth" -- which was that they had been preaching global warming and a new ice age at the same time. "The Day After Tomorrow" did a good job of taking two obviously contradicting statements and hypothesizing that one can cause the other. My wife and I had the same question after seeing the movie: "If our own industrialized societies will cause the next ice age, what caused the last one?"

I have no doubt that hydrocarbon emissions and other man-made factors play a role in the overall equation that is the environment of the earth. We should do everything in our power to decrease pollution and destruction of natural resources. Most normal human beings understand these things. What we don't understand is the rabid fundamentalist rantings of people who drive SUV's and tell us to conserve; of people who want us wearing "Jimmy Carter" turtleneck sweaters in our own 62 degree homes while they use 10 or 20 times the energy we are using. It's hard to take a politician seriously who preaches to us about saving energy while his Escalade idles in the background to keep the air conditioner running.

Today I read an interesting article by Richard S. Lindzen of Newsweek magazine. He believes that global warming is a fact. He wants to do something about it. He is "on board" with what much of the media is preaching to us. However, he is also thoughtful, insightful, and honest about what is really going on. He calls his article, "No Such Thing As a 'Perfect' Temperature." I quote him out of respect for his truthfulness and openness. I do not accuse him of believing what I believe, nor do I wish to force him into my own box. He probably would not agree with me on most of what I say, but he is not a "foaming at the mouth" environmental fundamentalist, and I do not understand why he was allowed, in the midst of environmental witch hunts, to write something like this. Surely the Supreme Court could have stopped him. In a nutshell, this seems to be the point of his article:
  • The only thing we can know for sure about climate is that it changes.
  • In a time when local weather forecasters can even mess up on the weekend outlook, why are we believing we know what will happen in 50 years?
  • There is no compelling evidence of impending catastrophe.
  • Is a warmer climate really a bad thing?
  • Many of the "indicators" that have been used to undergird the panic have been fluctuating for years, such as sea-level rise, etc.
  • Climate modelers themselves have not been able to explain some historical fluctuations such as the warming of 1050 to 1300 and, more recently, the 1976 cooling -- and despite their inability to account for the past, we're taking them at face value as they try to predict the future. (My note -- I've been amazed over the years how "financial analysts" can always tell us after the New York Stock Exchange closes, just why the market went down; but they can never predict what it will do the next day, or what effect daily factors will have -- it is that same "after the fact" logic that environmental advocates are trying to turn into prophecy today).
  • Most of what we have done so far to reduce emissions has caused more problems than it has cured.

I will look next week to see if Mr. Lindzen is still with Newsweek; if, in fact, he is still allowed to speak anywhere. After all, he has spoken heresy, and it would seem he must be burned at the stake for it.

An interesting question is posed by someone who responded to Lindzen's on-line article: "If it is northern industrialized nations that are destroying the atmosphere, why is the ozone hole over the south pole?" Another noted that Einstein's theory of relativity has never been contradicted, never been proven wrong, has always played out, yet after a century, it is still just a theory, yet global warming is proclaimed as a fact from media pulpits everywhere.

It seems to me that there are possibly many factors contributing to a changing environment. Some of them are man-made, and others, such as volcanoes, are beyond our control. Yet it seems that the biggest contributor of all is out of our reach. Is it too simplistic to suppose that the number one contributor to global warming and/or the decrease of temperatures worldwide on our own planet is the same thing that is causing these things on Mars? I think it's the big orange thing that keeps coming up in the East. But I guess that's heresy.


Strider said...

Excellent post, Sir.

I'm currently writing a paper on Global Climate Doom: The Insignificance of Mankind's Carbon Dioxide Output for my english class.

Most of what I've seen in news reports is a bunch of malarkey. As you said, when someone contradicts the "Al Gore Doctrine," it's heresy, and most definitely not permitted. Looking back over the last 100 years or so, I see 4 times that the Major News Networks have carried stories of impending doom and disaster.

The first big scare was in 1895, when the media carried warnings of a new ice age. The second came in the 1920s, when the media and scientists warned that the earth has heating up. This was after the average temperature increased one half of a degree. These stories of global warming continued into the 1950’s with the NYT’s carrying stories on it.

Then came the 3rd wave of hysteria, when in the mid 1970s, after some 20 years of changing scientific views, the New York Times reported “A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable.” 1975. Or how about Newsweek Magazine? “"There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth." Or TIME magazine? "As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval." These are all headlines supporting the general consensus that the alleged “majority” or “leading” scientists agreed on. The consensus was that the Earth was cooling rapidly, and that a mini ice age would most likely occur.

Then what do you know, but not a decade later, and all the media and scientists are screaming about Global Warming, and how carbon dioxide (which is what we expel out of our lungs every time we breath) is causing a temperature shift, and we are all going to die because the ice caps are melting and the sea is going to rise 20 feet, flooding the coastline cities.

BParsons said...

I appreciate your comments, and also thank you for your historical insight. Excellent research, strider. Thanks for the added information.