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Global Climate Change

Global warming

Global climate change or "global warming" is a matter of concern for many people. Our understanding of this phenomenon has been influenced by scientific analyses, pseudo-scientific polemics, by our short personal observation horizons, and by a general lack of knowledge of the Earth's evolutionary history. This page will discuss what is known, what is unknown, what is incorrect and what possibly we should do (if anything) about climate change.

The Earth has been evolving for millions of years. As part of this evolution, what we call "weather" —temperature, moisture, wind, etc.— has also gone through many major fluctuations without notice from man. Of course, man wasn't around for most of that time to notice that the weather was changing without his having any effect on what happened. Only in the last few thousand years has man even been able to comment on the weather. And they probably discovered quite a long time ago that "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it!" Well, it seems that a great many people now believe that we can affect the weather, and in a not very agreeable way. Of course we are referring to the "global warming" theories.

Over time, modern man has noticed the ample evidence that the earth has not always been as we now see it. Scientists and observers have studied these changes and devised various theories to explain why the earth has evolved as it has. Some of these theories are generally accepted as reasonable explanations based on the evidence we presently have. One accepted fact is that the weather has varied radically over long periods of time. Since the beginnings of recorded history we have seen wide variations in the climate over large sections of the Earth. Climate change, either heat or cold, wet or dry, is not a new phenomenon.


A New Theory

There is overwhelming evidence that the Earth has undergone severe changes in climate over the eons. However, there is now a new theory about climate change that is not based on natural events. The currently prevalent climate change theory states that the Earth's atmosphere is getting warmer due to the so-called "green house" effect. The agents for this additional warmth are the "green house gases" that slow the escape of heat created by the Sun's radiation on the Earth's surface. If the energy from the Sun to the Earth is equaled by the energy that escapes from the Earth back into space, then the Earth's temperature should be fairly constant. However, observers have detected a small increase of the Earth's warmth and have looked for an explanation other than natural variations. A widespread belief is that the quantity of green house gases has increased, resulting in the elevated temperature.

The major natural green house gases (excerpted from Wikipedia) are: are water vapor, which causes about 36-70% of the greenhouse effect on Earth ; carbon dioxide, which causes 9-26%; methane, which causes 4-9%, and ozone, which causes 3-7%. It is not possible to state that a certain gas causes a certain percentage of the greenhouse effect, because the influences of the various gases are not additive. Other greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydro fluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. Of these gases, although water vapor contributes the most to the effect, carbon dioxide is generally named as the culprit and civilization is blamed for the apparently higher levels of this gas today than in the past.


The Ultimate Culprit: Man

The burning of carbon-based fuels (primarily oil, natural gas, and coal) is said to be the source of the increased carbon dioxide. However, it seems likely that if humans are the source, then the entire range of human activities are to blame. These include agriculture and raising animals for food. Also burning wood for heat and cooking and clear-burning of forests to create land for cultivation. It seems likely, moreover, that it is not so much that people do such as eat, drive, warm themselves, provide light, etc., but that there are so many of us doing those things. So, in temporary conclusion, we suggest that if carbon dioxide is causing dangerous damage to the atmosphere, the problem is that the Earth is overpopulated. In that case, it becomes not a problem of science or technology but one of too much humanity!


The infallibility of science?

Many have noted that science can provide very exact test results, but is not very accurate in making long term predictions. Excerpts from a letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, By Stuart Galishoff, make that point. [1]

When he makes this rhetorical statement " Surely today when there is a scientific consensus you can rely on its accuracy." The answer is " As a matter of fact, in the last three decades there have been many cases of mistaken scientific consensus." he goes on to describe some scientific errors.

"Embarrassingly for global warming alarmists, in the 1970s there was a prior scientific consensus about climate trends, only then it was that the earth was rapidly cooling. Many scientists began predicting the coming of a new mini ice age accompanied by a catastrophic decline in food production. In a 1975 story, "The Cooling World," Newsweek reported that "the evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it." Since nothing was done to address the "problem" of global cooling (some climatologists thought it might be necessary to melt the Arctic cap by covering it with black soot), no harm resulted from this scare. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about other severe cases of mistaken scientific consensus."

"In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of silicone implants, which were widely used for breast augmentation and reconstruction after mastectomies. The FDA acted after allegations that silicone implants were causing autoimmune diseases were seized upon by the media and feminists, who claimed that, at bottom, it was a story of corporate malfeasance and male exploitation of women. A tidal wave of lawsuits engulfed Dow Corning, the principal manufacturer of silicone implants, forcing it into bankruptcy, with devastating consequences for its employees and the residents of Corning, N.Y. Further scientific investigation revealed that silicone implants did not cause lupus and cancer, and in 2006 the FDA reversed its ban "now that the products have been determined to be safe and effective.""

"The moral of these stories is that the public, government agencies and even scientists can be stampeded into deciding important issues without sufficient evidence. Contrary to what Al Gore has famously said, the jury is still out on man's responsibility for global warming, about which we know almost nothing, and the danger it poses."

Several other instances of mistaken scientific concensus are noted. and Professor Galishoff concludes that:

"The moral of these stories is that the public, government agencies and even scientists can be stampeded into deciding important issues without sufficient evidence. Contrary to what Al Gore has famously said, the jury is still out on man's responsibility for global warming, about which we know almost nothing, and the danger it poses."


More to come



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[1] Stuart Galishoff, AJC 25 January 2008.