Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Global Warming and the "Alarmist Media"

This guest editorial was published in the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin today:

Tuesday December 26, 2006
Gore's film manipulates climate truth

By Gene Tye

Support for current legal and legislative actions to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, claimed to be the primary source of global warming, is motivated by alarmist media exemplified by Al Gore's recent documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth". It is filled with exaggerations, distortions, untruths, and convenient omissions, only a few of which are illustrated here. There is no dispute that the earth warmed and CO2 increased over the last century, but not all agree that the temperature increase occurred primarily from CO2 rather than natural causes.

Fundamental to his case is the recently published "hockey stick" graph, based primarily on analysis of tree ring proxies, illustrating a revised climate history where global average temperature is essentially constant over the past millennium, and then rises rapidly in the 20th century. Gore uses this graph to proclaim that the warming we are currently experiencing is unprecedented, and results from CO2 emissions. The graph is contrary to established climate histories which depict a Medieval Warming Period (900-1200 AD) where temperatures were comparable to or higher than those of today, followed by a Little Ice Age (LIA) (1300-1850) from which we are still emerging. According to acongressionally authorized study by a committee of university statisticians (Wegman, et. al ., 2006): "the (hockey stick) assessment that the 1990s was the hottest decade and 1998 the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by the author's analysis."

One of the most egregious distortions in "An Inconvenient Truth" is the manipulation of ice core date illustrating the correlation of global temperature and atmospheric CO2 over 650,000 years. The date is presented in a way to obscure the fact that temperature changes precede changes in CO2 by about 800 years. An important omission is that some of the preceding interglacial periods, with lower CO2, exhibit temperatures exceeding those of today.

Recession of Kilimanjaro glaciers is presented as a spectacular illustration of global warming. There is recession, but not from melting. Temperature there is never above freezing. Recession has been clearly shown to result from change to a more arid local climate in the 19th century.

Snowfall has been insufficient to replace the sublimated ice. At
Glacier National Park, retreat has indeed resulted from melting, but
has been occurring since about 1880 when temperatures there were first recorded, prior to increased CO2. Average summer temperature there has been essentially constant for over 100 years. Glacier recession is believed to result primarily from emergence (thankfully) from the LIA.

Global climate is dynamic, highly complex, and historically has had many periods of major change from forces not well understood, but clearly not produced by large injections of CO2. Current climate models are not well validated and exhibit large disagreements in predictions. Earlier this year it was predicted that in 2006 the East coast would experience Katrina-like hurricanes (there were none). Gore claims that recent global temperatures are accelerating upward. Actually global temperature has changed very little over the past 8 years.

There is credible evidence that we may even be headed for another modest ice age in about 30 years due to periodic solar changes. Global oceans have cooled recently, giving back 20 percent of the entire heat content gained since 1957 (Lyman,et al , Geophysical Research Letters, 2006). A significantly cooler earth will be a much greater threat than a warmer one, and we might be thankful for a little extra CO2 in the atmosphere.

There will surely be substantial changes in climate beyond our control. It is important that future generations have the economic resources and scientific knowledge to adapt to those changes.

Gene Tye resides in Endwell.
Here is my response:
"Alarmist media"?

We are at the verge of the collapse of the all the Earth's various ecosystems. The data is not controversial amongst most scientists who review it. Global warming is just a part of it.

If you want a taste, read "Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" by Thom Hartmann. Here's some fun facts:

We have reached Hubbert's Peak. This means 1/2 of the global supply of oil is gone (about 500B barrels). Nothing we as humans can do can sustain oil production at present rates. Production will continue to falluntill it's all gone.

That's 500 BILLION BARRELS, all of that has been burned since ~1800. It's hard to find an adjective to use which describes the amount of CO2 which has been dumped into the atmosphere because of this, but let's just say it's "a lot". This is unprecedented in the geological history of the earth, and this must be having some affect.

Despite falling production, the human population has doubled NEARLY THRICE since then (from 1B to 7B people), meaning, the demand for oil is INCREASING. This is because oil is everything. It is food, it is fuel, it is plastics for manufacturing and packaging. Oil is everything.

Predictions say we have perhaps 40 years of oil left. We need oil to feed 7B people. This is a serious problem folks. This means that within 40 years, the global human population will likely fall to 1/7 of present levels.

Let's say that another way: when the oil is gone, 6 out of 7 people alive today will likely be dead.

That's right folks, there will likely be a MASS DIEOFF of humanity over the next 40 years. This will be due to war, disease, hunger....

Here's another thing: According to Hartmann, over the evolutionary record of the Earth, several hundreds of thousands of years, the background rate of species extinction is about 2-20 per year. We are now at between 10,000 to 150,000 species per year. This is FIVE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE above the background rate. The conclusion is clear:

We are in the middle of a mass extinction.

So when the the author uses the phrase "alarmist media", I have to wonder, "What alarmist media?!" Why isn't this front page news, every day!? All I'm reading about is how well the economy is doing, and about how there's a sale on iPods at Staples...

We need every human alive on the Earth today to become aware of this problem, empowered with accurate information, and we need all people of good conscience to help figure out how to save Turtle Island.

If you are interested in this, I suggest in addition to the Hartmann
book, you check out the work of Derrick Jensen, whom
I would call properly alarmist. For a taste, listen to the two-part
presentation here: http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=11025

-- Bill Huston, 607-724-1755 bhuston@stny.rr.com

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