An objective analysis of the factors which contribute to climate change
CO2 Forcing: Fact or Fiction
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Climate change is an emotionally charged topic. The arises because the science is not understood by most people causing climate change to be transformed into a political issue. Even many scientists are confused by claims and counter claims regarding the validity of various facts, theories, hypothesis and speculations. The underlying science is relatively easy to understand, however, the specific mechanisms are non linear, significantly affected by second and third order factors, somewhat counter intuitive and can be easily misinterpreted.
Many facts are not in dispute. One is that climate change occurs. The evidence indicating a wide range of long term climate variability is indisputable. It's also reasonable to consider that climate change is happening now. What's in dispute, is the magnitude and cause of any recent change. The reason is that there are no medium term measurements of worldwide climate from which to draw conclusions. There are detailed measurements of the slow change in 100 to 1000 year average temperatures going back millions of years as well as 25 years of detailed satellite measurements providing a very accurate indication of the hourly change for each 50 or so square kilometer patch of the Earth's surface, but nothing in between. Adding to the confusion, is that the satellite data is inconclusive regarding any discernible trends in the global yearly average temperature over the last 25 years!
Other indisputable facts that are that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that man has been adding CO2 to the atmosphere. It's quite clear that the current CO2 levels are as much as 25% higher than they would be without mans contributions. What's in dispute, is the magnitude of the forward effect incremental CO2 has on the global mean temperature. The physics of atmospheric absorption tells us that this effect, while finite, is so small as to be inconsequential. The ice core data shows a correlation between average temperature and CO2 levels which many have interpreted to imply that CO2 change drives temperature change. However, the ice core data also tells us that CO2 and methane changes in response to temperature changes and not the other way around. It also tells us that all of the observed changes are periodic and highly correlated to known variability in the Earth's orbit and axis. This variability affects climate in the same way as the Earth's axial tilt results in periodic seasonal variability. A controversy arises because some sort of amplification is required to match temperature data to solar variability. The satellite data illustrates how the hemispheric asymmetry in the ebb and flow of surface ice as a function of temperature provides enough amplification, while the alarmists insist that some sort of unqualified positive feedback effect from CO2 provides it.
Since so many have unconditionally embraced the idea that CO2 variability drives the climate, there's a great reluctance to consider anything else. So much so, that those who challenge CO2 forcing are considered heretics and ridiculed just for being objective. The consequence has been a plethora of unsuccessful speculations to explain what the data is saying, without giving up the CO2 forcing hypothesis. Very little work has been done to correlate the data with known science, as to do so, requires discarding a hypothesis that so many incorrectly believe to be a fact. It's unfortunate that politics and not science is behind this obstinate obstructionism. The scientific method dictates adjusting the hypothesis when it doesn't fit the facts, while the political method is to ignore those facts in conflict with your beliefs.
Getting the science right is of paramount importance. The alarmists claim that if we don't regulate CO2, the ensuing climate change will destroy the planet and that this alone justifies any cost. However, if reducing or even eliminating CO2 emissions will have little to no effect on the future climate, the cost benefit analysis changes dramatically, even to the point where regulation is unjustifiable at any cost. As more scientific scrutiny is applied to climate change, it becomes increasingly obvious that the CO2 forcing hypothesis is fundamentally flawed. If the alarmists agenda is allowed to proceed, we will be in for a bigger unnecessary financial shock than was caused by the recent Congressional mistake of encouraging a taxpayer guaranteed market for sub-prime mortgages.
The Obama administration is predisposed to follow the alarmists agenda and must be convinced otherwise. The only chance is if enough scientists, engineers and other science professionals stand up and speak out against the flawed presupposition that CO2 drives the climate. We simply can't count on the politicians to get this right on their own. The intellectual tools required for understanding are logic, objectivity and the scientific method. If you can embrace these concepts, it's your duty to take the time and understand the basics of climate science. Once you do, you will clearly see the flaws in the alarmists arguments.
You can start here:
CO2 Forcing: Fact or Fiction
This slide set presents data from satellite imaging, multiple sets of ice core data going back about a million years, Mauna Loa CO2 data , atmospheric absorption data, solar radiance data and the relevant science facts of physics and biology. The slides also present the objective analysis required to make sense of all the data and to correlate the different kinds of data from multiple sources, including links to the UNIX compatible C source code used for the analysis. The slides are also available as a power point presentation and as an open document presentation.
Power Point Presentation
Open Document Presentation