Posted by: Rob | February 12, 2010

Climate Change and Weather. Again.

I left a comment on a blog in response to this video.  The comment was lengthy, which is not unusual for me.  Not wanting to “waste” the effort, I elected to re-post my comment on my blog, since it is somewhat editorial in nature.

This is the Rachel Maddow segment I was referring to.  it’s around 10 minutes in length and you really don’t need to view it, especially if you’ve seen clips of Maddow goofing around before.  My editorial follows the clip.

The issue of climate and change is large and complex and, obviously, can not be summed up in one 10 minute Rachel Maddow segment.

I appreciated Maddow’s attempts to draw analogies to the fundamental difference between “weather” and “climate”. And any thinking person who has been exposed to the likes of Beck and Hannity spouting off has already concluded that they’re nothing but idiots whose only purpose is prostituting themselves regurgitating whatever rhetoric will have the largest potential of fattening their bank accounts.

However, her interview of Bill Nye and, more particularly his points, fell flat, in my opinion. He cites the IPCC’s receipt of a Nobel Prize for “discovering climate change” and goes on to talk about the “denial of science”, despite the improvements science and technology have made in modern life.

Now, I’m neither a global warming activist nor a climate change denier. I have tended to be on both sides of the issue but I’m now convinced that neither side is “correct”.

Frankly, I have trouble with the evidence used by those who believe in anthropogenic global warming. The historical climatic data being used to forecast future climate is, in my opinion, a bit questionable. Besides, data and statistics can be twisted and interpreted to support any position the analyst cares to advance. The bigger question mark here, though, are the climate models themselves. The system that attempts are being made to model is much too large, much too complex, and has far too many variables – some of which are known but many, I suspect, are unknown – to be adequately modelled by current human capabilities. That is, of course, just my opinion. To focus on some parameter, atmospheric CO2, for instance, and say a-ha! that is a primary cause of observed changes in the atmosphere, is not only arrogant but somewhat disingenuous.

Unfortunately, the “debate” (such as it is) has degenerated into a battle over money and lifestyle, with significant obstinacy on the part of the majority to maintain the status quo.

Personally, I am weary of the “debate” and I no longer really care who is “right” and who is “wrong” on the matter of agw. My credo now is to simply to do the things that I think are right for me and my family, and for the environment in which I live, and to figure out how to adapt to any changes that may be coming as the earth seems to shrug a little in order to reduce the size of the population of pesky humans inhabiting her surface.

Interestingly, despite all the current hype and hysteria over agw, long term historical temperature trends would indicate that the earth’s preferred state is as an “iceball”. The iceball state is periodically interrupted by interglacial warming intervals, which is what we are currently enjoying. The interglacials are, geologically speaking, short-lived and, even more interestingly, the one we are in is near the end of the average duration such warming periods.

So, to quote a plaque in a colleague’s office, “In a million years, none of this will matter.”

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Responses

  1. Well, in the meantime, we have lives to live – and one planet to live them on.

    As for “believing” in AGW – Check with the folks who send people into space re: temperature trends:
    http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/whatonearth

    “If 98 doctors say my son is ill and needs medication and two say ‘No, he doesn’t, he is fine,’ I will go with the 98. It’s common sense—the same with climate change. We go with the majority, the large majority.” Gov. Schwarzenegger

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Yes, we do have lives to live, and that is the key.

      Thanks, also, for the link to the nasa blog. I read a few of the recent entries and there is enough misinformation present to lead to questions about the blog’s veracity.

      For example, this piece claims that some greenhouse gases, like CFC’s and HFC’s “stay around for thousands of years”. This is not true. Cosmic radiation acts upon these molecules to break them up into their constituents. How do we know this? The chemical reactions also involve ozone, ultimately converting O3 (ozone) into O2 (oxygen). The result of this was the “ozone hole” that began opening over Antarctica years ago. The Montreal Protocol severely limited the manufacture of such CFC’s and HFC’s and, over time, the concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere has declined.

      There’s a big focus on CO2 and its effects on climate. There has been much anguish and hand wringing over the sharp increases in atmospheric concentrations. Still, humans do not really understand how the atmospheric and other planetary systems work together to regulate CO2. Granted, much of the CO2 comes from the combustion of fossil fuels and wood, but CO2 is also released by other, natural, mechanisms as well. Like volcanoes. It took the climate scientists a while to figure out that the oceans were absorbing CO2. Have you heard the theory that CO2 is also being released into space at the outer limits of the earth’s atmosphere. Doesn’t this make sense? After all, the atmosphere is not exactly hermetically sealed.

      One hears very little about the effects on climate (or weather) of deforestation. Why not? This is a man made effect, for the most part, and it does influence some local conditions. For example, the Cloud Forest in, I believe, Costa Rica (which has disappeared, and taken the golden frog with it), or the snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Experts” will say that agw is causing the mountain top to lose its snow cover, when it’s more likely a result of the change in humidity caused by deforestation at lower altitudes around the base of the mountain.

      For every point that agw alarmists make, there is a counter point or other feasible explanation.

      As for the Schwarzenegger quotation, well, I think it’s not really appropriate. The democratic concept of “majority rules” does not really apply to science. Just because a lot of people believe it, doesn’t make it so. Organized religion is a classic example of that kind of folly.

  2. “Bill Nye the Science Guy”? A well intentioned advocate for science education, and a media icon in children’s programming… Expert on climate change?

  3. I agree. We haven’t been been around long enough to know with certainity that this isn’t just a cycle of warming or cooling, which people don’t seem to be able to decide on.

    On the other hand, you don’t have to hang around a city long to know they smell bad and are fairly toxic environments. Doesn’t it just seem like common sense that if we can cut down on pollutants it can’t hurt.

    I’m not a scientific instrument, by any means, but I can tell a huge difference in my self. When I’m caught in heavy traffic on a hot day with my truck, I can’t keep the AC running because the truck will overheat. I have to roll the windows down, and breath the fumes, which will in virtually no time result in a headache. When I’m in the Volvo, I can keep the windows up and the AC on, and regardless of how bad the traffic is, I don’t get the same result.

    I don’t think we should destroy the developed world, but it seems like making some changes is certainly prudent. It is just too political. You either have to buy the entire program or reject the whole program, and life just isn’t that way. Sensibility and civility are a thing of the past.


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