An assistant professor of “environmental economics” recently published an article in the journal Climate Change. The article’s central question was: “How much evidence would it take to convince ‘skeptics’ they are wrong?” The study concluded that “Those who are strongly skeptical about climate change are unlikely to change their minds for many years to come.”
Both the author’s hypothesis (central question) and conclusion are absolute rubbish. This is like saying “those who are convinced that gravity is real,” or “those who are convinced that table salt comprises more than 60 percent chlorine,” or “those who are convinced that American astronauts really did land on the moon in 1969”—“are not easily persuaded to change their minds.”
In other words, these truths (gravity, chlorine in table salt, landing on the moon) are not beliefs; they are established facts. On the contrary, to be “convinced that human activity (CO2) is the fundamental cause of climate change in the 20th and 21st centuries” is a belief backed by no data-proven evidence.
College majors come in two flavors: “hard science” and “soft science.” “Hard” science includes the fields of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, genetics, and, yes, climatology (also called “atmospheric science”). “Soft” science consists of everything else: e.g., literature, the humanities, art, theology, psychology, economics, sociology, politics (also called “political science”), and the emerging field of study known as “environmental science and policy.”
Hard science relies on quantitative data; soft science deals in qualitative opinions. By repetitive experimental findings, the former can be proven (truth, fact). The latter reflects opinions (beliefs, fiction), but nothing is proven with hard data—with the qualification that many questions in psychology, economics, and other social sciences (e.g., measurements of inflation, population demographics, the effects of voting rules on voting behavior) are often studied using statistical methods, including Bayesian analysis and random forest regression.
Skeptics know that, since Earth was formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, it has always undergone “climate change,” i.e., variations in regional weather measured in decades or centuries. This is not to be confused with “weather changes—measured in days, weeks, and months.” Based on ice-core data, climate is cyclical. More than a dozen cycles of varying lengths have been identified by climate scientists; this means there are cycles within cycles within cycles.
Examples of climate change include Milankovitch’s Glacial-Interglacial Cycles occur every 110,000-120,000 years; Precession Cycles (every ~26,000 years); Lunar Tidal Cycles (1,800 years); Sixty-Year Climate Cycles (e.g., the 1930s-40s and 1980s-90s were both warm, but the former was warmer than the latter); Solar Cycles (varying sunspot activity every 11-12 years); and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)—El Niño and its opposite La Niña occurring every 2-7 years).
Skeptics know that before thermometers were invented (1714), Earth experienced: The Minoan Warm Period (~1500-1000 BC); The Roman Warm Period (~250 BC-400 AD); and The Medieval Warm Period (~950-1250 AD). During the latter, Vikings colonized southwestern Greenland; grape-growing and wine-making occurred in England and even near Stockholm. This last warm period was followed by the Little Ice Age (~1550-1850), during which time the Thames River sometimes froze over.
What are the natural causes of these cycles? Solar activity; radiative forcing and insolation (amount of sunlight absorbed vs amount radiated back into space); cloud type and amount; Earth’s rotation and interplay between its atmosphere and oceans; variations in precession, eccentricity and axial tilt of our planet; gravitational pull of other planets of substantial mass (especially Jupiter); and volcanic eruptions both on land and underwater.
Here is the dilemma: believers think that, since the Industrial Revolution began (1760), a human-caused rise in CO2levels is the source of “global warming” (aka “climate change”). This is their religion based on “soft” science. Skeptics agree that recent global warming has occurred; however, this reflects natural causes of climate cycles. Skeptics also agree that rising CO2 is occurring, in part by the Industrial Revolution, but that this is beneficial to plant growth. Doesn’t anyone—from grade-school biology—remember that plant photosynthesis involves the taking in CO2 while expelling O2, whereas all animals inhale O2 and exhale CO2? Life on this planet is carbon-based—these data represent “hard” science.
Skeptics also know that, in past ages, geological data suggest CO2 levels have been as high as ~10,000-15,000 parts-per-million (ppm). This was before mammals evolved, and plant life flourished. In recent times, “normal” CO2 has ranged between ~150-180 ppm during Glacial Periods and ~280-310 ppm during Inter-Glacial Periods. Earth came out of its last Glacial Period ~11,500 years ago.
Today’s global atmospheric CO2 levels are ~415 ppm. At these CO2 levels, plants are still currently “at least 25% CO2-starved.” In fact, commercial greenhouse growers commonly elevate CO2 to 800-1200 ppm; this enhances growth and yield by ~20-50%. Indoor air routinely ranges between 500 and 2,000 ppm of CO2. Submarines regularly operate with ambient CO2 levels between 2,000 and 5,000 ppm.
The atmospheric effect of CO2 on climate is highly exaggerated. Since the end of the Little Ice Age (1850), our planet has been warming naturally (thankfully)! Industrialization during the past 2½ centuries has perhaps increased global atmospheric CO2 levels by ~100 ppm, which has improved crop growth.
As planetary temperatures rise, skeptics know that CO2 in the liquid phase (oceans) moves to the gaseous phase (air)—we learn this in introductory chemistry. Hence, rising global atmospheric temperatures cause CO2 to increase, not the other way around.
CO2 levels in our lungs reach ~40,000-50,000 ppm, which causes us to inhale our next breath. One of the first things medical students learn in respiratory physiology is that the carotid body (clusters of chemoreceptor cells located in the neck) detects changes in arterial blood flow pO2 (partial pressure of oxygen), pCO2, blood pH, and temperature. When the blood pCO2 reaches a critical level, the carotid body quickly sends this message to the brainstem, which then sends signals to the diaphragm to breathe. The body needs more O2, and therefore exhales the excess CO2.
“Carbon emissions” and “carbon footprint” as causes of “global warming” are nothing more than scaremongering buzzwords created by global warming alarmists, insincere environmentalists, certain dishonest politicians and “scientists” who need their salary, misinformed journalists, and “environmental economists.”
Skeptics know that CO2 is an odorless, tasteless, invisible, non-polluting gas on which all life on Earth depends. “Smoke” from factory chimneys represents mostly water vapor, not CO2 (a common error in the media every day). Dirty industrial fossil-fuel pollution is, of course, undesirable and causes health problems. However, many scientific lines of evidence—including geological history and fundamental radiation-transfer physics—show that human-made CO2 emissions have a negligible influence on climate in comparison to the natural factors listed above.
Conclusion: The hypothesis and conclusion described at start of this article are complete nonsense. Climate alarmists, your fearmongering isn’t cool anymore.
Image: Markus Spiske, Public Domain