A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Monday, April 18, 2011

AGW Alarmists Stuck in Gear

Timothy Birdnow

My father-in-law is an avid reader of Second Hand Smoke, the blog hosted by Wesley J. Smith. Mr. Smith posted a piece referencing a Wall Street Journal article about how, according to ice cores, Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere rise AFTER a warming period historically. My father-in-law e-mailed the piece to me, and I was struck by the argument that ensued.

For example, one commenter said;

"My, my, my what have we here?

Which fallacy among many shall we choose to commit today – false dichotomy? straw man?

Before I address this, the first question I have is the following:

~335,000 thousand years ago the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 190 ppm, according to the Vostok ice cores. By ~325,000 years ago that level had risen to over 300 ppm (and the glaciers retreated). In this one example, temperature increases followed CO2 increases. Can anyone explain this?

Back the to the issue at hand: Does CO2 cause warming or does warming generate CO2?"

Another had this to say;

"The fact that sometimes warming has preceded an increase in CO2 doesn’t prove there is not a causal relation. There have been many periods of natural warming that have released CO2, and the CO2 has acted as a feedback mechanism, further increasing temperature. It has been known by scientists for 150 years that greenhouse gases increase global temperature. What would need explanation is why a 30% or more increase in greenhouse gases since the start of the industrial revolution is NOT increasing global temperature."

And another;

"Dr Richard Alley, one of America’s leading paleoclimatologists, dismantles that worn-out “CO2 follows temperature” talking-point very nicely right here:

In that lecture, Alley makes the following point: Claiming that CO2 cannot cause warming because CO2 followed initial warming in the past is like arguing that because interest follows debt, interest cannot increase debt.

Anyone who knows how credit-cards work should be able to understand Alley’s point.


It has been known for something like 150 years that more CO2 in the atmosphere *will* cause warming — this is basic physics, the same physics which has been nailed down over the past 150 years and is routinely taught to college undergraduates."


"But you are probably like most: you’ve already made up your mind, so you ignore basic logic. Basic logic says: “even if we didn’t understand all the details (we never have and we never will, yet we still can draw correct conclusions about how to build airplanes and about whether it is smart to put arsenic in your drink and so on, based on science) the basic logic is, if you know co2 heats the planet, and you know your current missions are taking co2 to way, way way above what it’s been for 800,000 years (yes, co2 was even higher if you got back tens of millions of years, but then florida was underwater, back then..) AND doing it at a RATE that is unprecedented, then you are taking huge chances.

The ‘skeptic’ argument isn’t skeptical at all, it is like saying,
“well, until we understand 100% EVERything about arsenic, and have 100% proof, let’s keep adding it to our children’s food” instead of “the amount is far higher than it’s ever been in the food, and growing at a faster pace than it has in the last 800,000 years, so sanity says, STOP it now, and don’t go back to doing it UNLESS 99.9% proven safe. ‘doubt’ is an argument to not monkey with the planet’s parameters to such an extreme (again, most extreme in well over 800,000 years) extent.."

End comments.

It has become obvious that the commenters are stuck on this mantra, and ignoring the real argument. They have their talking points. I posted the following comment:

"CO2 acts in a logarithmic fashion; each doubling decreases the greenhouse trapping. It seems to be misunderstood by many here that the argument is not about CO2 but about feedbacks. The real damage would be done by water vapor and methane, which, it is argued, would increase in the atmosphere as a result of the small amount of warming caused by carbon dioxide. The question is, are feedbacks positive in this manner or negative? Certainly water vapor can be seen to be negative; it increases planetary albedo.

The Medieval Warming Period coincides with the 800 year figure for a CO2 rise, it should be pointed out.

The convenient figure bandied about of 300,000 years is purposefully chosen to ignore the much higher levels of CO2 which have coincided with some cold periods. During the Ordovician CO2 levels were over 4000 ppm's, and ice age conditions were present, for instance.

Yes, the doomday scenario Global Warming is a fraud and hoax. Roger Revelle, the popularizer of the theory, expected a 2* rise in temperature, and considered it a bit of a curiosity. One can find the political translation of an obscure scientific theory into a tool to drive globalization and redistribution of wealth quite easily on the internet - if you bother to look. People like John Holdren, James Lovelock, Margaret Mead, were all instrumental in turning this into the circus it has become. And climatology, which was a sleepy subset of meteorology, has become fabulously wealthy as a result of the money flowing in to prove the theory. They are simply giving their customers in government and environmental groups what they want. Much of the research is bought and paid for. This is especially true of the computer modelers. The models cannot even predict current conditions using past conditions as a starting point, yet we are forever being told that these simulations somehow "prove" global warming is real and a dire emergency.

Where is the increase in sea level rise? Sea levels actually rose last year. Where are those terrible hurricanes we were told were coming? They have been reduced to trying to blame cold snaps and earthquakes on rising CO2."


I had to make a slight correction:

"Oops, I meant sea levels FELL last year. They have been rising since the end of the last ice age.

Do we institute draconian economic policies that will impoverish much of the world based on a scary tale about a problem that likely doesn't exist? Poverty kills. Every plan to mitigate AGW is based around decreasing humanity's use of energy, which is the source of wealth. Where do we draw the line between a real danger - poverty - and a flight of fancy? A truck driver is always in danger on the road; do we ban trucks? We KNOW the price is too high in that instance. We do not know that any warming is caused by CO2, yet we are pushing an equivalent step."


Doubtless I'll have some of these True Believers jumping down my throat here, and I don't really have the time to spend arguing with them. Still, it should be interesting to see which way they will jump.

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