Saturday, August 16, 2008

News Flash!! Climate is Changing!

Climate is changing, but then it always has. That is not controversial. It certainly isn’t news.

Nonetheless, we are daily treated to articles like a recent Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times which adds nothing to our understanding of the climate situation. His wonderful descriptions of Greenland and individual impressions of how the weather has changed tell us nothing about the cause of those changes. Friedman's use of these images to paint a tragic picture of changing climate is simply an emotional appeal which takes as a given that human CO2 emissions are the cause.

But is it? What is the evidence? Friedman offers none. Does the science actually support the conclusion that human CO2 emissions are causing harmful climate change? Or have we just been inundated by decades of repetition so that now we accept it as true in spite of the fact its scientific status is still controversial?

Stop. Think. On what scientific facts and climate theory are you basing your opinions? Are you familiar with the major scientific challenges to the current “consensus” on anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change? Is there validity to the data and arguments presented by those who disagree (also here and here) with both the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well with the very process that generates that body’s science and its Summary for Policy Makers? What are the criticisms being offered to the standard view of catastrophic global warming? Is there any merit to those criticisms? What do you actually know, as opposed to what have you heard?

One simple question to consider: Is the average global temperature increasing?

It depends. What time frame are you considering?

The earth’s temperature has been changing ever since it formed. From a 600 million year perspective, we are currently in a relatively cool phase. (*)

Figure 1 Average Global Temperature 600 million years to present

If you look at the temperature record for the past 400,000 years, we are currently at an interglacial temperature peak.

Figure 2 Temperature difference over the past 400,000 years

A close up examination of temperature estimates for the last 3000 years shows us emerging from the Little Ice Age.

Figure 3 Surface Temperature of the past 3000 years

Zooming in to the last 150 years shows two periods of warming: 1900-1940 and 1960-2000.

Figure 4 Average temperature difference for the past 140 years

The first warming period occurred before any significant change in atmospheric CO2 and had to occur for some other reason. So why so much confidence that the second warming period is caused by human CO2 emissions?

Proponents of CO2-induced global temperature change frequently refer to a pair of charts which demonstrate a remarkable correlation between historical CO2 levels and global temperature. Figure 5 Temperature and CO2 for the past 400,000 years

These charts tell us nothing about which is cause and which is effect. It could be either. However, let’s zoom out from this view of the last 400,000 years and look at our best estimates of CO2 and temperature over the past 600 million years.
Figure 6 Temperature and CO2 over the past 600 million years

The correlation no longer is so clear.

Fact: there is no general theory of climate which adequately explains changes past or present. There is much that is understood, but crucial areas are poorly understood. Complexity in and of itself is not a reason for skepticism, but climate science is both complex and young. There are large gaps in our knowledge, not just of data but of the fundamental principles which are operating: the roles of ocean currents, cloud cover, precipitation, water-vapor feedback, cosmic rays. Even by estimates of the IPCC, much of our scientific level of understanding is “low.”

Why this topic in a blog on wealth? Because the promoters of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming are telling us that we need to drastically reduce our consumption of energy in order to save the planet. The economic effects of mandating the switch away from fossil fuels to more expensive energy alternatives will be devastating to the millions of people living “at the margin.” Be sure you adequately understand the science before you vote to condemn them to poverty, or worse.

And be on the look out for articles like Friedman’s which are mere emotional appeals promoting a political solution without addressing the controversial aspects of the underlying science.

(*) Figures 1-6 taken from “A Global Warming Primer” by the National Center for Policy Analysis. The primary sources for the data are cited at the end of the Primer.


Sue said...

Yay Beth! What a great post about the climate change issue. It's a keeper.

John said...

Great posting, Beth. I really enjoyed your use of charts this time in presenting and promoting a more objective and scientific approach in understanding what is actually happening with climate change. I particularly like the way you use different time-line charts to "zoom in and out" throughout the geologic history of earth showing cooling and warming changes, also comparing what we know about the CO2 changes. If this doesn't help convience your readers that we have a lot to learn about the relatively new science of climate study, I don't know what will.

Everything we know, and learn, about our lives and our world - heck, everything we know and learn about anything in reality, natural or man-made, from material goods to ideas - affects wealth production and our ability to fight of poverty, or worse, as you say. This is especially true of political decisions, policies, and any legislation that affects all of our lives, here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

Political decisions, policies, and legislation must adhere to rational, objective, and scientific practices and information, or else we stand to lose a lot more than our wealth, prosperity, and way of live. Poverty is no fun.

A big "kudos" to you, Beth, from your east coast fans, for defending the value of wealth and wealth production in our lives, and separating it from the real causes of poverty and political tyranny in the world.

Beth said...

Hi all,
A couple of peopel are having trouble getting their comments posted, so I am going to post them for them. My dad suggested I work on instructions on how to post. I'll work on that too.


Beth said...

Hi Beth,
Enjoyed your post. You always have a way of getting to the root of things that don't quite make sense to me but I can't quite put my finger on it. Thank you!

I tried to post a response on your site, but maybe I'm using my old server and it wouldn't go. So here it is.

Thank you also, for being a breath of fresh air in the ongoing GW debate. It is sooo refreshing that skeptics are now being heard in a big way.

I love you,

zev said...

Would you be open to putting an "add this" button on your blog?

You have a lot of good posts that I'd like to post directly on my facebook to share with my friends.

Comment me back and let me now your thoughts.

Beth said...

I'll try to figure out how to do this.

What is your site?

zev said...


Go to I dont blog but i have myspace and facebook and other stuff. So with one click of a button, i could share your site with 200 people.

I don't know how to add it to your site but every blogger is getting it and it shouldn't take long to install.

Hope you choose to add this feature to your blog. I've been suggesting that ARI put it in it's press releases but so far it hasn't seen the light.


Beth said...

Thanks for the link, Zev.
I am working on it. I'd like to have the button at the bottom of each individual post, but the instructions are not correct. I've put in an email asking for help so I hope to get it figured out before too long.

Thanks for the encouragement!

zev said...

Just stick with it, its guaranteed to increase your views. At least, I will link to your posts.

Beth said...

Zev, I am getting closer but not quite there. I now have "bookmark" inserted, but I think I really want "add this." Awaiting a reply to my request for help from the Add This folks. Arrgh!
Once I get it in, would you let me see your face book?

zev said...

sure, e-mail me at
and i'll get back to you.

z said...

what happened?

Beth said...

Hey Zev,

I think I got it up and running. Sorry it took so long to figure out. I am a babe in the woods with this html stuff. An email is in the ether.

zev said...

cool...i had a thought recently on the subject of climate change. i was struck while driving one day by the similarity between the belief in God and the belief in man-made, harmful climate change. both are met with instant hostility if you dispute it. very little deep argument is offered, most arguments center around the immorality of anyone who would question it. the belief is reinforced by the fact that so many other people believe it. both engender intense belief without much (or any) proof.

i've been wondering a LOT about WHY there are so few people who remain independent and skeptical toward the dogma viewpoint. i concluded that the belief in god has acted as a template for the belief in global warming. all i can say is that i'm very disappointed by the people around me, my parents, friends, loved-ones.