Anthropogenic Global Warming Revisited

In the comments section of one of Rick’s posts, a debate about global warming was started.  One person claimed that those who deny anthropogenic global warming are using faith over reason.

Who is using faith over reason?

The climate models used by the IPCC predicted that there would be less snow cover in North America as a result of AGW, as stated in a report published by Columbia University.

So, what happened when snow amounts in North America increased?

Answer: On December 25, 2010  the New York Times published an op-ed piece titled “Bundle Up, It’s Global Warming” written by AGW proponent Judah Cohen. Here is the beginning of Cohen’s piece:

The earth continues to get warmer, yet it’s feeling a lot colder outside. Over the past few weeks, subzero temperatures in Poland claimed 66 lives; snow arrived in Seattle well before the winter solstice, and fell heavily enough in Minneapolis to make the roof of the Metrodome collapse; and last week blizzards closed Europe’s busiest airports in London and Frankfurt for days, stranding holiday travelers.  The snow and record cold have invaded the Eastern United States, with more bad weather predicted.

All of this cold was met with perfect comic timing by the release of a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably  be among the three warmest years on record, and  2001 through  2010 the warmest decade on record.

How can we reconcile this? The not-so-obvious short answer is that the overall warming of the atmosphere is actually creating cold-weather extremes. Last winter, too, was exceptionally snowy and cold across the Eastern United States and Eurasia, as were seven of the previous nine winters.

So, according to the Church of AGW, less snow will be the result of AGW, unless there is actually more snow, which will also be the result of AGW. Now is that kind of logic the result of faith or the result of reason?

Here is more. In 2003, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics issued a press release which starts with the following paragraph:

A review of more than 200 climate studies led by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has determined that the 20th century is neither the warmest century nor the century with the most extreme weather of the past 1000 years. The review also confirmed that the Medieval Warm Period of 800 to 1300 A.D. and the Little Ice Age of 1300 to 1900 A.D. were worldwide phenomena not limited to the European and North American continents. While 20th century temperatures are much higher than in the Little Ice Age period, many parts of the world show the medieval warmth to be greater than that of the 20th century.

Are the researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics using faith or reason?

Also, in 2006 geophysicist Dr. David Deming testified before the U.S. Senate, during which time Deming made the following statement:

In 1995, I published a short paper in the academic journal Science. In that  study, I reviewed how borehole temperature data recorded a warming of about one  degree Celsius in North America over the last 100 to 150 years. The week the  article appeared, I was contacted by a reporter for National Public Radio. He  offered to interview me, but only if I would state that the warming was due to  human activity. When I refused to do so, he hung up on me.

I had another interesting experience around the time my paper in Science was  published. I received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area  of climate change. He said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm  Period.”

Deming also said . . .

In 1999, Michael Mann and his colleagues published a reconstruction of past  temperature in which the MWP simply vanished. This unique estimate became known  as the “hockey stick,” because of the shape of the temperature graph.

Normally in science, when you have a novel result that appears to overturn  previous work, you have to demonstrate why the earlier work was wrong. But the  work of Mann and his colleagues was initially accepted uncritically, even though  it contradicted the results of more than 100 previous studies. Other researchers  have since reaffirmed that the Medieval Warm Period was both warm and global in  its extent.

Is Deming using faith or reason?

Lest we forget, in its April 28, 1975 issue Newsweek proclaimed that the Earth’s climate was cooling down. That report in Newsweek states . . .

To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down.

Let’s not forget that June 24, 1974 story in TIME magazine titled “Another Ice Age?”  Here are the first two paragraphs from that TIME story:

In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada’s wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone’s recollection.

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

So, did Newsweek and TIME magazines use faith or reason while proclaiming that another Ice Age  was in the making?

Notice that in the TIME story the weather extremes are supposed to be signs of global cooling. Yet, now AGW proponents are saying that such weather extremes are signs of global warming. Well, which is it?

Which is reason and which is faith: to claim that the science is settled or to claim that the science is not settled?

Finally, let’s consider something mentioned in that press release from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It talks about the finding of scientists who reviewed more than 200 climate studies. The press release quotes researcher Willie Soon, who said the following:

We felt it was time to pull together a large sample of recent studies from the last 5-10 years and look for patterns of variability and change. In fact, clear patterns did emerge showing that regions worldwide experienced the highs of the Medieval Warm Period and lows of the Little Ice Age, and that 20th century temperatures are generally cooler than during the medieval warmth.

So, contrary to what AGW proponents claim, the Medieval Warm Period was both real and global. Now that’s an inconvenient truth.

It is no wonder that AGW proponents are in denial about the global Medieval Warm Period.  Being that it took place before the Industrial Revolution, it is apparent that the global Medieval Warm Period had all-natural causes.  So, one cannot rule out the possibility of the modern-day Warm Period having all-natural causes.

Well, if your beliefs are based on reason, then you cannot rule out the possibility of the modern-day Warm Period having all-natural causes.

However, if your beliefs are based on faith, then perhaps you could rule out all-natural causes.  You might even go so far as to deny the occurance of a global warm period, such as the one that took place between the years 800 CE and 1300 CE.

For what it is worth, I do not object to someone claiming that the Earth is experiencing a present-day warm period. However, I do object to someone claiming that such a warm period is the result of Mankind’s activities, because the global Medieval Warm Period demonstrates that Nature does not need Mankind’s help in order to create a warm period.

Also, I do not deny the possibility of Mankind’s activities contributing to weather patterns, and I see nothing wrong with trying to reduce carbon emissions, as long as doing so doesn’t cause economic harm. It’s OK to try to do a better job of protecting the environment if that really is your goal. However, if your real goal is wealth redistribution,  or if your goal is to make money by selling carbon offsets, then I will not be jumping onto your bandwagon.

If you preach global warming but live as if it’s not happening, then I will not be motivated to join your crusade.

Sure, global warming can be happening, but it is ridiculous to claim that every unpleasant weather event is the result of global warming. If you are going to do that, then you might as well blame global warming for other things.


[Image Credit: Feature image from Corbis Images.]


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