Friday, July 26, 2013
Recently a local Minneapolis newspaper, the Northeaster, published a lengthy piece by state Senator John Marty calling on the state government to take measures to replace fossil fuels with solar and wind energy “very quickly, or our children and their children will face catastrophic changes in the environment.”
He did not quote any scientists or scientific studies. He cited a lobbyist for an insurance federation, who blamed a doubling of insurance premiums in the last decade “primarily due to an increase in tornadoes, floods, and other catastrophic weather events,” implying they are due to the burning of fossil fuels. But if either Marty or the lobbyist had checked the facts, they would find that tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, etc. have been decreasing. The increase in insurance premiums is due entirely to greater real estate development in those areas as more people have chosen to live where those dangers occur, not to an increase in the burning of fossil fuels.
Striving to limit my reply to a length comparable to Sen. Marty's piece, I did not comment on some other questionable things he said, but the following is what I sent the Northeaster:
“Senator Marty's comments on climate show ignorance of scientific facts and historical perspective. He said the earth's temperature rose 0.8 degree Celsius—but didn't mention that most of this occurred before 1940, while most of the fossil fuel burning occurred after that, due to global industrialization.
“He cites Arctic ice melting and [Arctic explorer and nonscientist] Will Steger's blaming fossil fuels. But the ice Steger laments about losing was open water in the early 1900s. We know because Roald Amundsen and other explorers sailed there ships in these waters, which later froze but have now melted. The Arctic Ice Cap has completely disappeared many times but always returned.
“Arctic temperatures fluctuate because the earth wobbles on its axis, and there is more water in the southern hemisphere and more land in the north. So, as meterologist Joe Bastardi explains, 'there is an eternal search for a balance that can never be attained. It can only go back and forth...[This ice melting] occurs every time the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has been warm...Over the next 20 years southern hemisphere ice will retreat and the northern hemisphere will advance once the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation turns cold.'
“For 95% of the last 100 million years the earth was warmer than now. It was warmer 1,000, 3,000 and 10,000 years ago. 10,000 years ago atmospheric carbon dioxide was about the same as now, but temperatures rose as much as 6 degrees Celsius in decade—100 times faster than the past century!
“Computer models based on the greenhouse theory have never been verified by temperature records and been unable to predict the future. There's been no global warming now for 17 years and four months despite huge increases in CO2 emissions. The world added about 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere just from 2000 to 2010. Yet no warming. If a theory contradicts reality, the theory must be wrong.
“The longer historical record also does not agree with warming from carbon dioxide. We are told the earth will overheat if atmospheric carbon dioxide doubles. But in the Ordovician Period, the CO2 level was 12 times what it is today, and the world was in an Ice Age.
“Water vapor is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for 96 to 99% of any greenhouse effect. Of the small remainder, which includes CO2, 97% of that is due to nature, not man. The equatorial Pacific Ocean alone produces 72% of the earth's emissions of CO2. Joe Bastardi again: 'Oceans have 1,000 times the heat capacity of the atmosphere, CO2 1/2500 of the gas blanket that makes our earth livable, man—according to the US Dept. of Energy—is only responsible for 1/20th of that, meaning 1/50,000 of the air is 'man-made.' Are we to believe that tiny fraction is the problem? Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies, fallen leaves, even insects and bacteria produce CO2 as well as methane. Termites alone emit ten times more CO2 than all the factories and automobiles in the world (See Science Nov. 5, 1982.) Natural wetlands emit more greenhouse gases than all human activities combined.
“All the computer models projecting global warming are based on the theory that even small warming from CO2 will be amplified by water vapor, causing 'runaway' global warming. But such an amplification has never occurred even with much higher levels of CO2. Again, if the theory contradicts reality, the theory must be wrong.
“The key to the earth's climate is the sun, not CO2.. Mars, Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and even distant Pluto are all experiencing global warming. Is the sun warming them while our warming is due to CO2?
“The sun's radiation is varied by 'sunspot cycles.' Magnetic fields rip through the sun's surface, producing violent disturbances and changes in the 'solar wind,' the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and the carbon dioxide level in the earth's atmosphere. Sunspot cycles cause only slight changes in the sun's radiation, but these changes are amplified many fold by interaction 1) with ozone in the upper stratosphere, and 2) with clouds in the lower troposphere. Clouds have a hundred times greater impact on climate and temperature than CO2. When the solar wind is strong and cosmic rays are weak, the global cloud cover shrinks. It expands when cosmic rays are strong because the solar wind is weak. In other words, the sun opens and closes a climate-controlling umbrella of clouds over our heads.
Retired environmental consultant
As Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin said, “You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as a doubling of carbon dioxide.”