My position will probably ruffle the feathers of the “Greenpeace crowd, the Liberals and the politicians needing another lever to generate tax revenue. That said, I agree that the earth is warming. That is a fact but in the history of the earth this is not unique. What we need to do, to better understand the issue, is to step back and look back beyond this dot on the earth’s history timeline called the present. The earth is actually warming on a long-term cooling trend that will fluctuate over periods of time, periods that are much, much longer than a generation or two. Take a look at the graph below.
The trend is toward the cooler side…what is interesting is the increasing variability in the swings!
This figure shows the climate record of Lisiecki and Raymo (2005)  constructed by combining measurements from 57 globally distributed deep-sea sediment cores. The measured quantity is oxygen isotope fractionation ([[δ18O]]) in benthic foraminifera, which serves as a proxy for the total global mass of glacial ice sheets.
It is like the old adage….what goes up must come down. There is nothing in the scientific record that indicates that this period of warming will go on forever. It shows a historical pattern of warming and cooling with an overall trend to the cooler side. Has man added to the CO2 load, you bet we have. Has the earth responded to those past swings, yes it has. What’s next…..rising sea levels – most likely. Changes in weather patterns – yes again. Has it happened before, yes it has – only this time with far-reaching disruption to our way of life in the coastal regions.
I remember a geology field trip in California where we counted 7 wave cut terraces going many hundreds of feet up a mountain side. Those terraces are a product of both mountain building and changes in sea levels….it is complex, just as the current debate over the same set of climate facts. Can our actions really stop and reverse this trend….. don’t kid yourself. What we can do and should be doing is conserving our natural resources…..conservation is the right thing to do but it will not reverse the trend. We should be preparing for the future and not playing Chicken Little – the sky is falling!
Here is a very likely scenario for the northern hemisphere ….. the melting of the northern ice cap will raise the sea level, how much – don’t know, probably many feet, a few meters. What may be of bigger concern is the impact on the Gulf Stream current bringing warm Atlantic water north and allowing the comfortable climate currently in place in the UK. Get your heavy coats out….it may be a number of generations out, but it will become much colder when that warm current is disrupted… then some thousands of years later it will warm up again….. then repeat….. and repeat……
Conservation of finite resources should always be a concern for the inhabitants of planet earth. Climate control by carbon tax is, to use a crude Texas term, like “pissing into the wind”. Our efforts would be better spent getting a head start on the outcome side of this current trend, key word – trend. I use the word trend because it will swing the other way…….way beyond my time on earth but my progeny will be dealing with the issues….either well thought out and planned for or smelling like urine soaked pants, pants worn by “chicken little”!
A little longer look at the historical record….yes the data is inferred, not directly measured,…..but there is agreement in general on the overall trends.
This is a bit like a log graph….at the far right is a 10,000 year segment, to the left of it is a 500,000 year segment then a 5 million year segment and so on. The present trend is up…historically it is ALWAYS followed by a swing in the other direction.
Rob Rohde’s palaeotemperature graphs pasted together on one page, with Royer et al.s CO2-corrected Paleozoic – Mesozoic record substituted for Veizer et al.s uncorrected record.
The Vostok and Lisiecki/Zachos temperatures are polar, not global, so the range has been compressed to compensate – by about the usual one-half. The relativities are very approximate.
Oh by the way, could there be some benefits to warming???? The increase in temperature leads to more water vapor which adds to global warming – but clouds from the increase in water vapor reflect heat and then will cool the earth…. a feedback loop. The earth’s climate has always been in a state of flux. We can choose to respond in a planned and logical manner or we can scream in fear over something we have little, if any control over. This link should demonstrate that as CO2 goes up, my tomatoes should do better!
The more I read the more I realize how complex the issue is. There is evidence that the phytoplankton are increasing – a photosynthetic organism that pulls CO2 out of the oceans – on the other hand, massive deforestation reduces terrestrial CO2 sequestering opportunities. I believe that the earth’s feedback loop will kick in and the swing in to other direction will happen. I worry about the ineffective efforts to stop climate change and how little is being done to prepare for the impacts of rising sea levels…
For more reading;
NASA website – great current data – what strikes me is the melting ice data and the sea level rise data – we should be preparing to address these impacts!
I am a firm believer in conserving finite natural resources – I believe we should do more to develop wind and solar power – I believe in a balanced approach and an orderly plan for the future based on civil dialog and a realistic view of the future. Some of the green solutions are shot down by the concerned citizens with the “not in my backyard” approach. The government has hamstrung many potential green projects due the complex and costly permitting processes. Lets all do our part, recognize that the future will look different from it does today – but just wait – the trend will reverse. Deal with the real pending problems and prepare. The time horizons are probably long enough to deal with the low elevation coastal populations and infrastructure issues. We should always be looking for a return on our investments. Carbon trading benefits only those that know how to game the system. Invest in our future, plan and prepare.
Ok…it is off my chest. Let the debate rage…