People keep asking me to blog about global warming. I have so far avoided the topic for four reasons:
1. My profound ignorance on the topic.
2. My inability to evaluate the claims on both sides.
3. My preference of not being scared shitless about drowning.
4. My observation that scary predictions about the future rarely happen.
This is one of the many, many cases where ignorance has utility. I can’t do much to stop global warming, but I can do plenty to ignore it and not worry myself into a coma before I drown in melted glacier water.
Anyway, recently I got dragged into the debate by a comment left by reader Bruce Harrison. He objected to a prior post in which I noted our President was ignoring the consensus of scientists on the question of global warming. I called this sort of behavior stupid.
Bruce countered by calling me arrogant and ignorant. So far, his opinion was spot on, so I figured it was worth seeing what else he had to say. This led me down a path of random, unreliable fact-gathering that I like to call “research.”
As I already noted, I’m not qualified to evaluate the science behind global warming. The best I can do is to evaluate the media reports of that science. Here’s the path my “research” took me.
In round one, I accepted the majority opinion of leading scientists, that global warming is happening, and that a big cause of that warming is all the frickin’ people and their energy-gobbling ways. A good representation of all those scientists is here on Wikipedia.
But where are the dissenters? Bruce Harrison pointed me to this web site where thousands of scientists signed a petition saying global warming is not caused by people.
Hmmm. That seems like a body blow to the idea that the science of global warming is settled. Then I noticed a follow-up comment on this blog by reader rokusan, who pointed to a web story about how the petition by the dissenters is not credible.
At this point in my “research” I was back to thinking the majority of scientists are probably right. You can find dissenters for any view. You can even find thousands of them if you put some effort into it. So I discounted the petition by the dissenters.
Then I looked at the next link provided by Bruce. It’s for a video called "The Great Global Warming Swindle." I figured this would be good for a laugh, kind of like a creationist museum with cowboys riding dinosaurs. It’s a long video, so I’ll summarize it after showing this link.
The gist of the video is that Al Gore and the scientists got the cause-and-effect thing backwards. There is a strong correlation between carbon dioxide levels and temperatures throughout history, but temperature increases come first by hundreds of years. Warmer weather heats the oceans and produces more carbon dioxide.
So what causes the extra heat? According to the experts on the video, the data says it’s clearly the sun. When the sun has extended periods with lots of sun spots, it raises the temperature on Earth a bit. That warms the oceans, which releases more carbon dioxide.
According to the video, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by humans is miniscule, and our industrialization doesn’t even correlate with changes in Earth’s temperatures. In summary:
Sun = huge hot thing that keeps fucking with us
SUV = drive all you want
As I’ve noted, and will continue to note, I’m not qualified to judge the science of global warming. But if you ask me to judge the persuasiveness of competing media accounts, I’d say the argument against people causing global warming is the strongest.
The video also does a surprisingly good job of explaining why the majority of scientists are politically and financially motivated to get the science of global warming wrong. I can’t judge the accuracy of that assertion, but the video is exceptional in its persuasiveness.
I expect the comments to this post to include convincing evidence that global warming is caused by people. If you plan to do that, watch the video first. It probably addresses most of your points.
[Update: It took about ten minutes for reader Chris Graham to post this link debunking the video "The Great Global Warming Swindle.": http://www.durangobill.com/Swindle_Swindle.html. Obviously I am unqualified to judge either the video or the debunking to it, but the last thing I read alway seems the most persasive.]