What Was It Like Before Global Warming?
Obi-Wan Kenobi's Guide to Climate Change
Updated January 20, 2012
The highest recorded temperature in the United States occurred at the aptly named Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California when the mercury soared to 134°F. Just two degrees higher, El Azazia, Libya established the world-wide temperature record of 136°F. One would assume that because (or so we're told) the earth is warming, that the two previously mentioned all-time record high temperatures were fairly recent events. They're not. The Furnace Creek record was set in July 1913 and the El Azazia record was set in September 1922. In the 1970s, the scientists were predicting a new ice age. Now, we're told the world will be devastated by AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) if we don't drastically reduce our production of CO2. The focus of any global warming debate should not be about whether Earth's climate is currently changing or will change in the future, but whether our use of fossil fuels is the primary driver for any change in climate.
A quick glance at the chart on the left shows that many of the all-time record high temperatures occurred a long time ago. The South Pole temperatures were not well understood till the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established in 1956-1957. The South Pole station has been continuously staffed by research and support personnel since that time.
I attended a local continuing-education lecture in October 2010 about global warming and the impact of climate change here in Montana. I wanted a front-row seat to current thinking being taught at the University level about global warming. This 3-1/2 hour lecture was taught by a University professor who was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, that was awarded jointly to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. and others. I attended with an open mind, hoping to be shown unbiased data proving human-produced carbon was the primary driver for any increase in global temperatures. Instead, for 3-1/2 hours I was shown evidence for climate change, trends in local temperature variations, and the potential outcomes from extrapolated temperature changes. The entire class discussion was presented from the position that climate change is real and that it was created by man, but no credible evidence was shown that proved the anthropogenic portion of the theory. It's all just a theory.
Our class was shown slides of retreating glaciers, industrial smokestacks, crowded freeways, devastating forest fires, high/low temperature records for Montana, and how thin our atmosphere appears from space. Lots of data was shown, but nowhere did I see proof that human activity is the primary driver for climate change. A few days after the class I sent the professor an email with a series of questions about climate systems that I was hoping he could help answer. Instead of providing thoughtful answers to sincere and respectful questions, I received a link to a climate skeptic web site.
The truth is that there are several natural forces at work that drive climate. Some are very powerful and some that operate in repeatable cycles. The class I attended did not discuss any of them in detail. I will.
What Was It Like Before Global Warming? I love asking that question when someone tells me how cold it is or how much snow they've had to shovel. I've been asking that question a lot in recent years. I subtitled this editorial "Obi-Wan Kenobi's Guide to Climate Change" because of the image we get from watching the original Star Wars movie, when Obi-Wan magically waved his hand at the Imperial troops and said, "These are not the droids you're looking for". As we learned, Jedi masters could control weaker minds by planting thoughts telepathically. It would appear AGW scientists are attempting to use Jedi mind tricks to avoid answering the tough questions. For example, if someone asks an AGW scientist about the direct correlation of sunspot cycles to climate variability on Earth, the Jedi scientist will say, "pay no attention to sunspots, they have no effect on climate". I beg to differ.
Mention sunspots to an AGW climate scientist, and you'll be met with eye-rolling and a statement that sunspots do not affect climate. In other words, "These are not the droids you're looking for." A huge body of indisputable data say otherwise. If you ever engage an AGW scientist, asking about sunspots, use the term "solar effects" instead. I suppose someone could argue that sunspots in and of themselves don't have an effect on Earth's climate. However, sunspots are visible evidence of a host of solar changes that occur simultaneously. The sun's surface temperature, solar irradiance (light intensity), magnetism, gamma rays, solar flares, coronal mass ejections and aurora borealis all vary in step with the sunspot cycle. To learn more about the "solar effects" associated with sunspots, visit the web site www.solarstorms.org/SClimate.html and www.petitionproject.org/gw_article/GWReview_OISM150.pdf.
The above chart is included here because I suspect you can correlate weather and climate events you've experienced during your lifetime with sunspot cycles. 2000 was a benchmark year for forest fires here in western Montana's Bitterroot Valley, where more than 356,000 acres burned on private, state, and Federal land. More than 500 homes were evacuated and a total of 75 homes were lost to the fires. 2000 was near the peak of a sunspot cycle. Many, but not all, of the larger fire events correlate to sunspot cycle peaks. Conversely, cold and snowy weather events I've witnessed here in Montana can also be correlated to sunspot minimums - like a 37" overnight snowfall on December 24, 1996.
Museums throughout western Montana and northern Idaho contain detailed records for the Great Fire of 1910. This fire, described as a "horrific maelstrom", burned about three million acres, an area roughly the size of Connecticut. The fire killed 87 people, including 78 firefighters, and is believed to be the largest fire in recorded U.S. history. People living in area towns and cities at the time were shocked, horrified and frightened like no other time. Whole towns were evacuated and in some cases whole towns were destroyed. This was a big fire event. The red areas within this map show the affected areas. For a more in-depth article about the 1910 fire, and to get a better sense for what a 1000-year fire is all about, visit: http://fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/articles/2010/1910Fire.htm.
Big fires are sometimes difficult to predict, but the conditions for such a fire are identifiable. The big fires usually occur within a few years following cooler and wetter summers that allow fuels to build. Once the fuel is in place, hot dry summers provide the low humidity and heat index needed for combustion. Now add weather instability and lightning storms (or an errant campfire), and a big fire is born. The 1910 fire occurred near a sunspot cycle peak. Spend some time plotting the biggest fires and strongest hurricanes, and you'll see they more often than not coincide near a sunspot cycle peak. Coincidence?
The northern hemisphere cooled dramatically during the period of 1645-1715, which later became known as the "Little Ice Age". This period coincided with a near total lack of sunspots (Maunder Minimum), named for solar astronomer Edward W. Maunder (1851-1928). The Dalton Minimum, another period of weak or absent sunspots, occurred during the period of 1795-1825. The Lewis & Clark expedition encountered very cold and snowy weather while crossing Montana's Bitterroot mountains westward into Idaho in late September 1805. On the return trip in May 1806 they encountered 30' snowdrifts near the top of what is now Lolo Pass on US-12. The snow depth they encountered was more than twice that seen in recent decades. The Dalton Minimum produced a much longer and snowier winter - back in the day. From the early 1800s to today, the sunspot data has been trending upward. To discover that the climate is warming is not a surprise to honest climate scientists who study our sun. How can anyone who examines the recorded sunspot cycle data not see a correlation to climate?
Interestingly, much of the climate data presented during the class I attended stopped at 2005. The climate has cooled measurably since 2005 here in Montana. I've seen frosts in mid June every year since 2007, which is an anomaly for this area. The past three summers have been cooler overall, with more precipitation and we've had colder winters. Not surprisingly, since 2007, the Sun has been pretty quiet, with few sunspots. Simply a coincidence?
We're told that Carbon 14 is produced in the upper atmosphere when galactic cosmic rays interact with atmospheric nitrogen. This interaction creates an unusual isotope of Carbon with an atomic weight of 14 rather than the more common 12. As our Sun becomes more active during a peak of sunspot activity, more of the incoming cosmic rays are excluded from the solar system. This level of C14 production varies inversely with solar sunspot activity. The above chart tracks C14 for more than 1000 years. C14 can be measured in ancient trees and other dated organic substances. On a shorter scale, C14 jogs up and down inversely with the ~11.3 year sunspot cycle. The above graph clearly shows a striking decrease in C14 over the past century (left edge of the graph), which inversely tracks sunspot activity (graphed negative up and positive down). Visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation to learn more about solar variation. In addition, when comparing a NOAA/National Climatic Data Center published paleo climate model to the above C14 graph, you see a striking correlation.
To answer the question of why AGW climate scientists do not often show data newer than 2005, you only need to look at CO2 graphed against temperature variation over the last decade. The correlation between CO2 and temperature tracked pretty well from 2000-2005, but then diverged. From 2005 forward, there's no correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature.
Atmospheric CO2 is expressed as "parts per million" or ppm, meaning for every 1 million molecules of air there are now currently about 380 molecules of CO2. Nitrogen, oxygen and many other trace gases make up the rest. Scientists believe that the atmosphere contained about 280-ppm CO2 before the industrial age, and after 175 years, we're told that humans have raised the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to about 380-ppm, a 35% increase. Scientists analyze air bubbles in ancient ice to learn more about the atmosphere in the past.
To gain a better understanding of how large 280 & 380-ppm really are, simply place 28 sheets of typing paper in one stack, and create another stack of paper containing 100,000 sheets. That is equivalent to 280-ppm. A sheet of paper is about 0.004" (4 thousandths) in thickness. 28 sheets would produce a stack about 0.112" tall - a little over 1/10" tall. A stack of 100,000 sheets of paper would produce a stack 33 feet tall. Now add 10 sheets of paper to the 1/10" tall stack. Not a big difference..., but that was a 35% increase. That's what the scientists say the increase in CO2 has been since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
As indicated in the above graph, there are other powerful natural forces at work that produce a variable climate here on Earth that have nothing to do with human activity. The Milankovitch Theory describes one such force that drives climatic variability. Milankovitch involves planetary orbital mechanics, capable of moving Earth's climate through repeated glacial and interglacial periods over time. Variations in the Earth's orbital eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession comprise the Milankovitch Cycles, named for Serbian astronomer Milutin Milankovitch, who is credited with calculating their magnitude.
Eccentricity: Many people believe Earth's orbit around the Sun is circular or nearly so. At times it can be - at other times not so much. The truth is that orbital eccentricity can vary between 0 to 9% ellipticity on a cycle of about 100,000 years. The alignment of the other planets in the solar system is thought to exert influence on both the Sun and the Earth, creating a variable center of gravity for the solar system. Currently, there is a 3% difference in the Earth's distance from the Sun between perihelion (closest to the sun) and aphelion (farthest from the sun). This produces about a 7% annual variation in the amount of solar energy received at the top of the atmosphere. This explains why those living in Australia can experience warmer than average summers while those living in North America could experience cooler than average summers.
Tilt: Those living north and south of the equator know about seasons. The Earth spins on a tilted axis which changes the amount of direct sunlight falling onto the planet's north/southern hemispheres as it orbits the sun. The amount of Earth's axial tilt cycles through a periodicity of about 41,000 years from 21.5° to 24.5°. More tilt reduces the amount of direct sunlight hitting the Earth's northern and/or southern latitudes, depending on where the Earth is in relation to its orbit. If the North Pole is more tipped toward the sun, more direct sunlight falls on the north during the summer, and the warmer the summers become here in Montana. Growing seasons, frost lines and arctic tree lines move north/south in step with changes in Earth's tilt. Nothing in nature is static.
Precession: The axial precession of Earth results in an axis that transitionally points toward either Polaris (North Star) or at the star Vega over about a 23,000 year period. When the axis is tilted towards Vega, northern winter and summer solstices will coincide with the aphelion and perihelion, respectively. Axial precession will produce colder winters and warmer summers in the Northern Hemisphere depending on the amount of orbital eccentricity.
Taken together, Milankovitch includes a 23,000 year cycle, a 41,000 year cycle and a 100,000 year cycle. Separately, each of these cycles can produce dramatic changes in climate. When combined, the Earth will move into an extremely warm or bitterly cold period if all three cycles become favorable to either a glacial or interglacial cycle at the same time. It is thought that only precession is currently in the glacial mode, while tilt and eccentricity are not currently favorable to glaciation. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles to learn more.
Earth's Oceans are a huge heat sink, which respond to solar effects by producing a number of thermal cycles over time - like the Pacific's El Niño and La Niña. The current La Niña cycle produces an ocean surface temperature about 3-5°C cooler than that seen during an El Niño. According to Wiki, "El Niño would [typically] cause a wet period in the Midwestern U.S., while La Niña would typically cause a dry period in this area. At the other side of the Pacific, La Niña can cause heavy rains." AGW scientists blame flooding, blizzards and droughts on global warming. I believe there's more to it than that - much more.
As the oceans cool, they produce less evaporation and less energy for cyclonic activity. As written in Dr. Ryan N. Maue's 2010 Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Update; "While the North Atlantic has seen 15 tropical storms / hurricanes of various intensity, the Pacific basin as a whole is at historical lows! In the Western North Pacific stretching from Guam to Japan and the Philippines and China, the current ACE value of 48 is the lowest seen since reliable records became available (1945) and is 78% below normal. The next lowest was an ACE of 78 in 1998..." http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/
It would appear as though Al Gore's prediction for more and larger hurricanes was a little premature. Cyclonic storms need energy to become a threat. We're currently experiencing an unusually weak sunspot minimum, and cyclonic activity is at historical lows. A coincidence?
We know that Earth's oceans are a huge heat sink and that they move through their own decades-long cycles of heating and cooling, but they also trap and hold CO2. Cooler waters can hold more CO2 than warmer waters. As oceans cool, the amount of CO2 they can absorb goes up. As oceans warm, they release more CO2 and cannot absorb as much of what is naturally produced or produced by man. If the solar effects theory for global temperature variation is correct, then we could assume that atmospheric CO2 could also rise as oceans warm. The question then becomes, is any CO2 increase leading or lagging ocean temperature changes? I asked the climate science professor this question in an email after attending his class. He did not respond.
The science is not settled... What I hoped to do here is point out that there are natural forces at work that have been proven to influence Earth's climate in dramatic ways. If anyone reading this can produce credible scientific data that proves anthropogenic CO2 is the primary cause of any global warming, let me know. I will close with a thought expressed in the opening paragraph - The focus of any global warming debate should not be about whether Earth's climate is currently changing or will change in the future, but whether human activity is the primary driver for any change in climate.The Diesel Page
I wrote a 2008 editorial about petroleum use here in America where I promoted energy independence (http://www.thedieselpage.com/dieselprices.htm). Soon after that editorial appeared here, I was asked why I didn't address global warming. That editorial wasn't the right forum for a discussion about GW. However, I know that America is bleeding-out from paying for all of the foreign oil it imports. This is precisely why I put together that 2008 editorial. AGW supporters should instead, advocate for energy independence, and I laid out how that could be accomplished in the 2008 editorial - without ruining our country.
Is global warming real? My opinion... First, I absolutely believe in climate change. Earth's climate has continually changed throughout the whole of human history - toward both the warmer and the cooler, and Earth's climate will continue to change long into the future with or without a human population. The question of whether the climate is currently warming is irrelevant to this debate. While it's been cooler the last few years, I believe the climate here in Montana during the first half of the last decade was a little warmer than it had been some decades earlier. Local temperature data demonstrates that the numbers are real. However, climate change due to anthropogenic carbon dioxide has not been proven. The huge cost to reduce CO2 emissions in any meaningful way here in the United States will have no effect on Earth's climate, and that effort will ruin our country and cause human misery all around the globe - all for a scientifically unsupported consensus.
Consensus: Science or Religion? There is a consensus among theologians that God is real and that He created man. There is a consensus among AGW scientists that global warming is real and that it was created by man.
"Consensus" is what you're left with when the scientific method fails to produce the facts necessary to prove a theory. Another word for consensus is "faith" - a belief system that cannot be proven by science. Consensus is not science. But, what is science? "Science is built on reason, logic and experiments that lead to conclusions or scientific facts. Each scientific fact is actually the result of thoughtful, controlled and completed experiments - dozens, or hundreds, or thousands. The cumulative results and conclusions, when analyzed, lead to the scientific fact, or theory, as the case may be." Scientific Method Thinking: Scientifc Methods and Processes in Biological and Physical Sciences
Is there a consensus among the world's scientists, regarding anthropogenic global warming? No... Far from it. By number, 15 times more scientists here in the U.S. disagree with the UN's AGW theory. A couple of days after this editorial was written and then edited, I became a little angry that it had to be written. There is so much well-researched scientific data available that disproves the anthropogenic global warming theory that I simply do not understand why it still lives. A lot of grant money pours into research institutions for global warming research. Some could argue that there's a powerful economic incentive for pro-AGW scientists to push the AGW theory. In 1961, President Eisenhower said: "The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present - and is gravely to be regarded."
In early 2003, there was a consensus among world leaders and their intelligence agencies that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of WMD and was producing more. Too late, but we now know that depending on a consensus to determine policy can be disastrous. The consequences for a consensus being wrong are incalculable.
This editorial first appeared online here in The Diesel Page in January 2011. More recently, on June 14, 2011, the National Solar Observatory released a new paper, entitled What's Down with the Sun? Major Drop in Solar Activity Predicted, that outlined the results of their study of the current solar cycles. They reported that: "Spot numbers and other solar activity rise and fall about every 11 years, which is half of the Sun's 22-year magnetic interval since the Sun's magnetic poles reverse with each cycle. An immediate question is whether this slowdown presages a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots during 1645-1715." Read more here:
Scientists at the National Solar Observatory say they are not predicting another Maunder Minimum-like mini ice age, but they are predicting cooler temperatures here on Earth ("0.3 degree C decrease from a Maunder-like minimum"). However, the big news is that they (AGW climate scientists in general) are finally willing to acknowledge the obvious link between sunspots (solar effects) and Earth's climate. Will this kill the global warming / climate change movement? Don't bet on it. When AGW supporters press on after being confronted with scientific facts contrary to their "belief", we can only conclude that it's not about the climate. Once a spotlight has been shown on what "it" really is, we can begin an open and honest dialog. Sustainability, overpopulation, energy & resource management, environmental protection, and many other of the world's challenges are real and deserve our full attention. Trying to manage any or all of these problems through fallacious global warming hysteria will, in the end, prove counterproductive. Changing civilization requires certainty - compelling and undeniable scientific facts. The AGW crowd do not have the facts or the science on their side.
Update - January 20, 2012: As reported in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of the magazine "Archaeology" - Archaeological Institute of America
That same issue of Archaeology also discussed how the recent severe drought in Texas has created exciting times for scientists involved with pre-Columbian archaeology and anthropology. The article reported that a new archaeological site is being revealed nearly every month - in TX, as they emerge from drying lakebeds. Early Archaic period sites dating back thousands of years are currently being studied for the very first time. This reminds me of the discovery of Otzi the Iceman in 1991, who was revealed in a retreating glacier in the Italian Alps near the border between Italy and Austria. The Iceman is reported to have died between 3350-3300 BC. Who can say what is normal for rainfall in Texas or glacial ice occurring in Norway or the Alps? Who?
Some years ago I visited the Grimes Point historical site, near Fallon, Nevada, and examined the Early Archaic period petroglyps and other food preparation features carved into the rocks. The interpretive signage said that approximately 6,000 years ago this ancient site was once on the shoreline of a vast lake, currently referred to as Lake Lahontan. Now, there is no lake. What remains is a vast desert. Climate change is the one constant throughout the whole of human and geologic history. Climate change is a proven fact. The challenge for current climate scientists is to differentiate natural climate change from that caused by humans. So far, they can't make a scientifically valid connection.
There's a literal mountain of scientific data that proves that the sun, Earth's orbital mechanics, and natural cyclical temperature swings are the real movers and shakers in global climate. China, India, Russia and all other countries would make no effort to reduce CO2. What effect on global CO2 would there be if just the countries where English is the first language and western Europe reverted to pre-industrial CO2 output? Impoverishing the west would have no effect on climate, but could imperil everyone through war, famine and disease. There are many very good reasons to begin a shift away from fossil fuel, but the unproven theory of anthropogenic global warming/climate change isn't one of them.
While the subject of Global Warming has been beaten to death on the Internet, in no particular order, what follows is a sampling of additional sites I referred to in preparation for this editorial.http://www.heartland.org/events/2010Chicago/PowerPoints/Monday%20-%20Session%203/Track%201%20-%20Science%201/Joe_DAleo.ppt
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/stateofknowledge.html Quote from this official EPA site: "a growing number of scientific analyses indicate, but cannot prove [emphasis added], that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are contributing to climate change (as theory predicts)."
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html Quote from UK's "The Independent", published March 20, 2000. According to Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia said in the article that, "within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting event." Now, fast-forward to 2011 and reality - The past few winters have produced a lot more snow and cold in England and most other countries all around the Northern Hemisphere, proving just how ludicrous the global warming hysteria was both in 2000 and now.
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