9.11.2005

Global Warming: Putting the cart before the horse!

A recent article that I wrote concerning Hurricane Katrina and global warming sparked a lively discussion about the subject in the comments section. So, I've decided to write a longer article dealing expressly with the global warming controversy.

The concept of global warming arises from the existence of greenhouse gases. These molecules (Carbon Dioxide, Ozone, Methane,and many others not produced by man) trap heat from the sun and hold it to the earth, keeping it a comfortable temperature. If it were not for these gases, the earth would radiate nearly all its heat back into space at night, freezing each and every one of us when it's dark and frying us in the daytime.

Naturally, a major imbalance in the amount of greenhouse gas would either result in superheating or supercooling of the earth, both of which would be disastrous to our health. Since the time of the industrial revolution, the amount of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) produced by the hand of man has increased dramatically. This means that if we don't stop this, our atmosphere will get too hot, right?

Wrong. CO2 is only one of many, many gases that act in this wise. You can click on this link to see a long list of greenhouse agents at Scorecard.org. Also, the overall amount of greenhouse gas produced by man compared to that produced by natural process is hugely unbalanced; this site points out that human activity produced only 0.28% of the full amount of greenhouse gas that is cycled through yearly. So the propensity for any imbalance being a simple natural fluctuation is huge.

But, in any case, there has been a large increase in atmospheric levels of CO2. The figure below, taken from this site, shows just how much:

Looks pretty bad, doesn't it? But take a look at the bottom of the chart. This graph has been truncated, or cut off at the bottom. The span of the chart is from 250 ppm to 360 ppm; only 31% of the actual length of the chart. In other words, the actual CO2 growth line is just as long but only a third as harsh.

So, is there a corresponding temperature increase that matches the CO2 increase? The answer is a resounding NO! The data given by environmentalist wackos would seem to suggest that it is increasing; see this image from The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

However, the proof is in the pudding yet again. Take a look at the temperature span: from -0.8 degrees C to +0.8 degrees. That's a full graph span of only about 2 degrees Fahrenheit! A more honest example of this data would be as follows:

What happened to all the crazy ups and downs? This graph shows a y-scale spanning 8 degrees Celcius instead of the paltry 1.6 degrees Celcius. A change in the temperature of 1.6 degrees is not significant, especially when it varies as much as is shown in the chart. A change of 8 degrees is . . . which is exactly what we don't see. It is likely that this increase of 0.15 degrees is just natural fluctuations.

So why isn't the increase in man-made CO2 mirrored by an increase in temperature? As I pointed out before, man-made CO2 is only a small fraction of the huge amount of greenhouse gas. We don't know how much CO2 would cause a noticeable increase . . . would tripling the CO2 do the trick? How about increasing it by a factor of 10? 100? We simply don't know. However, it is obvious that global warming won't produce significant change for a long, long, time. Some people have claimed that the increase in CO2 is "building up" for a huge increase in the temperature. But such speculation is nothing more than "the stuff that dreams are made of."

When their data has failed them, the environmentalists inevitably come up with their last defense: the environmentally correct Pascal's Wager. Pascal's Wager basically points out that a non-Christian has nothing to gain if they are right and everything to lose if they are wrong.

The members of PETA and EPA always turn this around like this: "Well, since we don't know how much more CO2 it will take, we'd better be safe than sorry! If we are wrong and the CO2 didn't cause global warming, than we've lost nothing, but if we are right, then we will have gained everything!" Sounds appealing, but no cigar. The costs to cut down on greehouse gas output are simply enormous compared to the highly speculative benefit of decreasing the temperature .01 degrees.

The environmental wackos have put the cart before the horse.

In Him,

D3

1 comment:

Jordan said...

You may want to check out this exchange of mine with Andy Crouch, who wrote a recent CT article using Pascal's wager as an interpretive device for the global warming debate.