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Thursday, April 23, 2015

HOW REAL IS GLOBAL WARMING?

I recently noticed a 4-year old posting about global warming in SKEPTIC, a blog site of the Skeptics Society.  The executive director is Michael Shermer, a regular contributor to SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.  To quote:

Some people believe that skepticism is the rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse “skeptic” with “cynic” and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas — no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.


You can read the entire article from SKEPTIC entitled, How We Know Global Climate Warming is Real, written by Tapio Schneider, (Professor of Climate Dynamics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Director of the Linde Center for Global Warming Environmental Science at the California Institute of Technology), but here is my quick summary of a portion with copious quotes, using his visuals:
  • ATMOSPHERIC CARBON DIOXIDE CONCENTRATIONS are higher today than at any time in at least the past 650,000 years.
  • They are about 35% higher than before the industrial revolution, and this increase is caused by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Figure 1. Carbon dioxide concentrations in Antarctica over 400,000 years
  • Click on those graphics to actually read them.  A few explanatory parameters:

  • Here, the growing complexity of climate change models:
  • Sea level is projected to rise 0.2–0.6 meters by the year 2100, primarily as a result of thermal expansion of the oceans; however, it may eventually reach values up to several meters higher than today when the disintegration of glaciers and ice sheets contributes more strongly to sea level rise. (A sea level rise of 4 meters would submerge much of southern Florida.)
There were 123 comments, mostly supportive, but many inane, and possibly representative of other kinds of skeptic groups, those funded by the fossil fuel industries.  How do I know this?  When I published my climate change articles in the Huffington Post, I noticed similarly insulting responses.  

I was able to trace some of them, and they emanated from organizations like the Heartland Institute.  While direct funding from these companies have now been refined and shielded through third parties, it is pretty clear that  the widespread disinformation campaign is continuing.   A quote from Wikipedia:

In the 1990s, Heartland worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question serious cancer risks to secondhand smoke, and to lobby against government public-health reforms. Starting in 2008, Heartland has organized conferences to discuss and criticize the scientific opinion of global warming.

Since publication of the above article by Professor Schneider, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year completed their Fifth Assessment Report,* a monumental effort of 800 of our very best climate change scientists, and the warnings are even more severe.  Who should you believe, the conscientious conclusions of scientists or the disinformation supplied by the fossil industry?
*Unless you enjoy reading the full Tax Code, you will not want to peruse the whole report.  Okay, I'm exaggerating:  tax code = 73,954 pages, IPRC #5 = only around 2000 pp.  However, here is a summary for policy-makers (only 32 pp), which is still formidable, but colorful.  By the way, last month was the hottest March on record, even though portions of the East Coast of the USA experienced record cold temperatures

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