Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Climate Change Shenanigans

It's difficult to pick up a newspaper or listen to television news without hearing something about "climate change" or "global warming" - frequently used as if interchangeable. Today's (Jan 4, 2007) Colorado Springs Gazette has a "Brief" entitled "Group calls out ExxonMobil for its myths". Here's one of the major quotes:

"ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainties about the human causes of global warming, just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," said Alden Meyer, the group's (Union of Concerned Scientists) director of strategy and policy."

Unfortunately, this manufactured straw-man doesn't hold up to skeptical evaluation.

Scientists back in the 1970's were predicting a new ice age. Today, they're predicting that the Earth will warm from 2 to 7 degrees Centigrade in the next 100 years. The science is no more settled about global warming than it was about the impending ice age from the 1970's. The people using "smoke and mirrors", as the article claims, appear to be the "Union of Concerned Scientists".

There's a lot being said about anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, but not much of it makes sense. There is a growing list of reports that contradict the current "consensus" that the Earth is even warming, much less that it's caused by human activity. There's also more NOT being said that needs to be factored into any evaluation.

First and foremost, the greenhouse gas effect that keeps the Earth warm enough for human life is caused by a number of gasses, not just carbon dioxide. Water vapor makes up the vast majority of these gasses (about 95%), followed by carbon dioxide (4%), methane (>1%), and all others (negligable). It seems odd that a secondary gas, carbon dioxide, could produce such large predicted changes while comprising such a small percentage of the greenhouse gas concentration. Apparently, it doesn't. Several recent studies, NOT funded by ExxonMobil, have shown that water vapor can - and is - far more important in understanding the role of greenhouse gasses in the Earth's weather. The chief driver of climate change, however, is the sun. Apparently, a change of just a few hundredth of a percent in solar output can have significant impact on the average temperature of the Earth.

In fact, the sun has several different roles in regulating the Earth's surface temperature. There have been a number of studies that show that solar forcing (changes in solar output, magnetic field strength, cosmic ray variability, etc.) played the major role in past climate changes that were greater than current changes, and probably provide the primary source of current climate changes (
here (and see other chapters for additional information),
here, and
These links were gathered from a Google search of "Solar cycles" +"effects on climate". The search returned 216 links. Several dozen other links, especially those from Geophysical Research letters, provided even more detailed information. A search of "Geophysical Research Letters" +"climate change" produced 236,000 links - too many to evaluate for this article.

Some of the data is supplied by global warming proponents, yet in reading the information, it is frequently self-contradictory, and occasionally deliberately mis-interpreted. One should maintain an attitude of studious skepticism in reading ANYTHING about global climate change.

There's also far less "agreement" than global warming proponents wish to acknowledge. Bjorn Lamborn's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist", is just one example. Here are a few others: Human Activity and Global Warming, by Kevin Langdon, Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group Weblog, and almost anything from the Geophysical Research Letters.

There are also other sources of CO2 than human activity. A few include volcanic activity, the oceans, and plant and animal decay. Most of these introduce more CO2 into the Earth's atmosphere than do human activity. Volcanic activity also ejects sulfur compounds, methane, and particulate matter. Sulfur compounds and particulate matter block sunlight, and provide for greater cloud formation, which reduces overall solar heating.

Methane is frequently released by human activity as well as carbon dioxide. Yet the main source of methane in the Earth's atmosphere, according to a recent scientific report, is bovine flatulence (Science research: Reducing methane output of ruminants). The article needs to be corrected: in the first paragraph, it states:

"Scientists a the Rowett Research Institute are examining a novel way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions: by reducing cow flatulence. They say that methane contributes about 18% of overall greenhosue gas emissions: 60% of that comes from agriculture, 10% from rotting landfill, mining coal, and oil. Cows contribute half of agricultural contribution, that is 9% of global methane emissions."

It's hard to take this article serious, since it's posted at "IndiMedia", a notoriously biased organization. They also have a problem getting their math correct. If methane contributes about 18% of overall greenhouse gas emissions (questionable), and 60% comes from agriculture, and cows contribute half of agricultural contributions, then cows contribute 30% of all methane emissions, and 5.4% (30% of 18%) of overall greenhouse gas emissions. That's a big difference from 9% of methane emissions. Errors like this, especially such obvious errors, destroy an organization's credibility (if it existed in the first place). At the same time, methane emissions from bovine flatulence MAY play a part in global climate change. It's good that such studies are being done, and that scientists have found ways to alter these numbers. The changes will probably have extremely negligable impact, however, since methane makes up less than one percent (1%) of total greenhouse gasses.

There may be global climate changes taking place - in fact, few climate scientists doubt it. The reason those changes are occurring, and how, is what is in doubt. Recent studies show that the sun plays a far greater role in global climate activity than previously thought. We're also learning that there are far more variables affecting climate than previously thought. The role of cosmic rays in cloud formation was a considerable surprise to many climate scientists. Too many people were too quick to blame mankind for something that is not within mankind's ability to control. It also once again reinforces the need to be skeptical in dealing with incomplete and conflicting data, and those trying to force political decisions from such data.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many people were too quick to blame mankind for something that is not within mankind's ability to control.

You are absolutely correct.

Global warming and cooling are realities - but, they move in great, broad natural cycles covering millions or even billions of years that are completely beyond the control of humans.

There have been times in the past when the earth and its atmosphere have been cooler and warmer than it is now. There will be times in the future when the earth and its atmosphere will be cooler and warmer than it is now.

We can't even begin to understand how those cycles work, and it is hubris in the extreme to think we can affect or control them. (But I admit, it does make a good political rallying point to pretend that we can.)

In terms of cosmological and geological time, humans have been (and will be) on the earth only for a blink of the eye, and nothing we can do will affect or control the broad natural cycles of heating and cooling.

And if you think long term, it doesn't even matter. In five billion years or so, the Sun will become a red giant expanding to a point well past the earth's orbit -- and when that day comes we will all be toast.

Best regards,

Gary Dikkers
(Also age 60 and USAF retired. Do we know each other?)

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well you're wrong on so many counts that there's really no where to eve begin.
So rather than begin, let me ad something.
Polar ice is the main source of our knowledge on warming and cooling tends.
That ice will be gone shortly and that's a big historical swing without recorded precedence.

Human causes or not, there is not enough effort being made to moderate the effects of the coming disaster.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you consider this credible data for your "cow fart" conundrum?

I don't know if you were ever a country boy or not Mike, I'm inclined to suspect not.
There's a lot more to cow methane than cows farting, if you had ever seen a pond of the stuff you'd know.

But it's ok math isn't your thing, writing fiction is.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Old Patriot said...

Well, "Anonymous", you're still trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Methane production, regardless of source, make up less than one percent (1%) of all greenhouse gasses. The information given in the article I quoted stated that animal flatulence made up a significant portion of agricultural methane production. Even the information provided by the EPA gives figures that are grossly different from those in the article, and certainly the percentages are different. It also references enteric fermentation, which has nothing to do with animal flatulence.

Strike one.

As for the Environmental Protection Agency being a "credible source", no I don't' think so. The EPA has a vested interest proving an anthropogenic source for "global warming". Just because they're a government agency doesn't mean they automatically get a green light. Their information sould be questioned just as seriously as anyone else's.

Strike two.

I grew up in central Louisiana. We had milk cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits. I've probably shoveled as much animal shit as you're trying to shovel bullshit.

Strike three - your'e outa here.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to a research the poorest people in the world’s poorest countries will suffer the earliest and the most from climate change, according to this year’s edition of the Environmental Review. The report says that, due to their geographical location, low incomes, and low institutional capacity, as well as their greater reliance on climate-sensitive sectors like agriculture, the poorest countries and people are suffering earliest and are poised to suffer most.

5:42 AM  

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