Monday, July 4, 2016

Is global warming a myth?

The Plaza San Marcos in Venice frequently floods at high tide
flickr.com
Take any position on anything, and there will always be a group that disagrees with you. Present facts; there will be skeptics with other facts.

Are there facts that support the argument that the earth is warming? Despite Phoenix having just gone through the coldest December on record, the unequivocal answer is: Absolutely.

• In Hawaii, the sea water outflow from storm drains is so voluminous that locals regularly report seeing reef fish and even baby hammerhead sharks in the streets of the industrial district. Three years ago, satellite evidence documented an acceleration of sea level rise that roughly doubled 20th century estimates.

• On the Marshall Islands, ancient trees and boathouses are being washed away. "Graveyards are about to fall into the ocean," says Bill Weza, who has managed more than 80 local staff at an upscale Marshall Islands resort for the past seven years. Like others, he says the world should not underestimate the threat of rising seas to atoll nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives. "If there's a big storm on top of a super high tide, we're screwed." The country has no way to evacuate the 60,000 people who live on hundreds of distant islands.

• Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Saufatu Sopo'aga, has no doubt his country is threatened by global warming. “The evidence is there, and our nation is suffering because of it, what else can we say? We do not need further scientific research into this global phenomena on sea-level rising; it is already there. Extraordinary high tides are now becoming common to Tuvalu.” In Tuvalu, sea-water now regularly floods the compost pits in which people have been growing their root crops for centuries. There are also seawater puddles that have seeped up from the ground around the runway and taxiway of the airport.

• The airport located on an island of the Maldives is closed for several hours each day. Why? Water at high tide floods the runway, making it unsafe for planes to land. Some scientists have asserted that sea level at the Maldivian islands may rise three feet or more in the next century.

• Do you remember studying about explorers like Henry Hudson who were looking for a ‘northwest passage,’ that is, a route to India along the top of North America instead of having to sail all the way around the bottom of South America? Well, in Summer of 2007, for the first time in recorded history, the Northwest Passage was navigable.

So, something is changing, and global warming seems to be the culprit. And most reasonable people agree on that. But what folks are arguing about is whether the problem is Anthropogenic Global Warming. AGW, as it’s called, refers to man-made global warming. Is the current warming trend part of a natural cycle, or is it due to human misbehavior?

The term ‘global warming’ is relatively new; if you want to research the beginnings of the debate, you have to search for terms like ‘greenhouse effect.’ For example, The New York Times reported that “Dr. John G. Hutton of the General Electric Company's engineering laboratory in Schenectady, N. Y., told the Cleveland section of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers last week that the man-made increase in the belt of carbon dioxide around the earth may be ‘having a greenhouse effect on our climate.’” That story ran on September 25, 1955!

In 1982, The New York Times did a story on a Columbia University study in which (then) recent satellite photographs of the South Pole were compared with maps and whaling ship records from the previous century. Their finding then was that summer pack ice had decreased 35% between 1973 and 1980, and that average surface temperature at the North Pole had risen 1.9 F. Their theory was that the burning of fossil fuels was pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, creating a “greenhouse effect.” The result of that story? Some listened and tried to make changes, but they were branded as kooks, greenies and tree huggers. And who was behind the branding? Mostly, oil and chemical companies.

As the vocal minority became more vocal and less of a minority, more studies were done. Fewer scientists could stand against the tide and claim there was no cause for alarm. And after Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, global warming became a household word. But is the global warming really being caused by human activity?

In researching this, I’ve come to one conclusion: climate science is incredibly complex. Anyone who says anything about it with absolute certainty is a fool. We humans are constantly falling in love with our own brilliance. Climate scientists have the same failings as scientists in every other arena: from astronomy to geology, physics to quantum mechanics, they like to take a handful of facts, thread a theory through them, and state their theory as if it were gospel. Here are some small pieces of the story:

• “Since the last ice age 18,000 years ago the global sea level has risen by 130 meters, and is still doing so at a current rate of around 20cm per century, which is dwarfed by local tectonic movements.” – Libertarian columnist Edward Townes

Was there an ice age 18,000 years ago? That’s a hypothesis, not a fact. Has sea level risen 130 meters in the last 18,000 years? Ditto.

• “Volcanoes alone spew out more Carbon dioxide than humans do every year.” – An anti AGW blogger.

However, T.M.Gerlach, of the American Geophysical Union notes that human-made CO2 “exceeds the estimated global release of CO2 from volcanoes by at least 150 times.” And according to the Global Carbon Project, “Volcanoes add 0.1 - 0.3 gigatons (Gt) of carbon to the atmosphere each year, which is about 1 - 3% of what human carbon emissions to the atmosphere were in 2007.”

Climate scientist Roger A. Pielke Sr. goes the other direction: "Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forces as they alter regional and global climate."

• “Rising levels of carbon dioxide do not correlate with global warming. CO2 is a result of, rather than a cause of, global warming.” – anti AGW blogger

However, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas; and, as Pielke said, it is not the only effect man is having on the environment. Furthermore, according to a Wikipedia article, “Analysis of carbon isotopes in atmospheric CO2 shows that the recent observed CO2 increase cannot have come from the oceans, volcanoes, or the biosphere.” -

Carbon dioxide increased from 278 parts per million in the 1880s to over 380 ppm in 2005. Most scientists are in agreement that CO2 causes between 9 and 26% of the natural greenhouse effect. And even though we are running out of fossil fuels, according to the 2007 Stern Report, “Increasing scarcity of fossil fuels alone will not stop emissions growth in time. The stocks of hydrocarbons that are profitable to extract are more than enough to take the world to levels of CO2 well beyond 750 ppm with very dangerous consequences for climate change impacts.”

Bottom line: the science is complicated, and it’s very early in the learning curve. Greedy men, on both sides of the argument, are using that fact for their own ends. But there is no denying that mankind has had a terrible effect on the planet. A chunk of the rainforest the size of a football field is being destroyed every 1 to 2 seconds. We pump pollutants into the atmosphere from cars and coal-fired power plants at a despicable rate. To say that such activity has had no discernable effect on the planet is criminally obnoxious.

Opposers of AGW don’t believe man needs to do anything. Even the staunchest supporters of AGW don’t believe man cando much to solve global warming. I agree with both sides. Man can’t – and/or won’t – fix the problem. We are seeing with our own eyes the fulfillment of Revelation 11:18. We now live in the time when people are ruining the earth. Therefore, as noted in previous columns, we are also living in the time when God will destroy those doing so.
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