The New York Times ran a piece a little over a year ago about short answers to hard questions about climate science. I am presenting my answers to these questions (questions in red), based on extensive research of climate articles, science and research papers.
1. How much is the planet heating up?
First, we have to decide which temperature set to use. There are several. Do we want raw or adjusted numbers?
Second, we have to decide what to do when values are missing. What method do we use to interpolate the values? What is the uncertainly in those measurement?
Third, we must decide how the average is to be calculated. Do we grid the data? Do we use anomalies from a base period? If so, which base period?
After all these decisions are made, we can give an answer. There will be many different answers, depending on what values are used and methodology is used. Which is correct? All of them and none of them. That is the wonder of statistics. All will most likely be increasing in value or remaining more or less level.
Most of the warming since 1950 is due to humans, according to the article. Why 1950? It has been warming since the 1880s or before at rates similar to after 1950. Suddenly, in 1950 humans jumped in and start to raise the temperature? Mostly, as far as is ascertainable, 1950 is used because it fits the theory. The year 1950 fits the theory and the theory shows 1950 is when warming by humans began. That is called “circular reasoning”–using your conclusion to prove your theory. It’s logically invalid. It proves nothing.
2. How much trouble are we in?
None or apocalyptic. It depends entirely on how much faith one puts in the calculations, models and the theory itself. Al Gore made a comment about 4 Hiroshima bombs per second added energy. This would be 2 billion Hiroshima bombs since 1998 if we stop at 2014. One calculation found on the website NoTricksZone shows this amount of energy would raise the temperature of the ocean .024° 1
While Al Gore makes things sound very, very scary, physics says there’s not a reason to panic.
What will the increase mean? No one can say. There’s a lot of “may” “could” “might”. However, when pressed, climate science says it cannot predict local changes. Local changes are what affects people. If those changes are unknown, then we know nothing useful about the future of climate. People live locally, not globally.
We have the ability to move goods everywhere on the planet, so local droughts and floods should not have the devastating effect they had in the past. People can more inland or elsewhere if oceans rise.
Will things change? Of course, whether or not CO2 continues to rise. There is no way to hold the climate level.
3. Is there anything I can do?
A tiny bit, maybe. You can drive a fuel-efficient car, replace your appliances with energy-efficient ones (ONLY when your current one stops working. Otherwise, you’re filling landfills for no reason and requiring more manufacturing of replacement appliances), you have no choice but to use CFL and LED light bulbs (LED’s are BRIGHT! My lamp now points at the ceiling to avoid the extreme brightness.), use water wisely (growing a water-intensive lawn in a drought area is just foolish. Forget the “save the earth” factor). The New York Times says take fewer airline trips. Maybe people should try writing Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio and let them know they are NOT helping. Forget carbon offsets. They are pretend accounting that does nothing except serve to advertise how virtuous you think you are. Climate is not affected by displays of virtue.
4. What’s the optimistic scenario?
We as humans do what we do best–adapt. We resist the “end-of-the-world” wailing and figure out how to deal with a changing climate, as we always have. We don’t kill every eagle, condor and bat trying to make electricity like they did decades ago. We do not panic and start doing “something”. Doing “something” with no clue as to the outcome or based on fear is no better than doing nothing. There is little chance humans control the climate. There’s virtually no chance of getting everyone to agree on solutions to a global climate change. Adapting is the best option, done locally.
5. Will reducing meat in my diet help?
No. It will, however, mostly make many people very cranky and increase interpersonal conflicts. The idea behind reducing meat does not hold up to scrutiny.
6. What is the worst case scenario?
In an effort to circumvent the reality that humans are not likely to be the major driver of climate, a world-wide dictatorship is established and millions or billions die due to lack of affordable energy.
7. Will a tech breakthrough help us?
No one knows.
8. How much will the seas rise?
No one knows. People can and will move away from the coast. Whether they do it matter-of-factly or wailing and moaning depends on how people are taught to deal with change.
9. Are the predictions reliable?
No one knows. Predictions 100 years in the future are science fiction. Probably even at 50 years.
What do we call “reliable”? It warms up? That’s possible with or without human input. It warms faster? Define “faster”. If it warms 2° based on whatever method we chose back in #1, by 2100, is the prediction is reliable? The effects of that increase are unknowable, of course, and verification of accuracy is decades out. It’s a useless prediction/projection.
10. Why do people question climate change?
Because that’s what is involved in science–questioning, testing and learning. To not question is to not be scientific. The methodology and data manipulation found in climate science seems to fit the definition of “bad science” and needs to be called out.
Then there’s the favorites:
a. Oil companies pay people to question the science. No, oil companies love global warming. All that money they make on useless turbines and solar panels via subsidies and tax breaks can be used to build the required natural gas backup for these plants at a much lower cost to the company. There is also zero evidence that oil companies have paid off anyone. If it is true, oil companies have better public relations people than the government, universities and Hollywood. These people would have to be super geniuses and majorly talented to exceed the combined efforts of those big hitters.
b. Politics is blamed. Conservatives and libertarians tend to question the theory. The same is true of progressives as far as blindly accepting the theory If conservatives don’t believe in global warming because it’s in line with their political beliefs, it holds that progressives believe in global warming for exactly the same reason. Translation: This idea clearly indicates climate change belief is NOT about science at all, but is indeed a political battle. It’s about political ideology. It cannot be settled by science since none is involved.
11. Is crazy weather tied to climate change?
No one knows.
12. Will anyone benefit from climate change?
It stands to reason some will some won’t, just as is true with most everything else in life. It was a pointless question.
13. Is there any reason for hope?
More and more countries are realizing how politically motivated so-called solutions to all of the alleged manmade climate change is. Countries and individuals are more willing to refuse to join in the “solutions” that cause damage, costs trillions and have little or no hope of success. Rational discussions of the topic are slower coming.
14. How does agriculture affect climate change?
No one knows. If we drop our agricultural practices and return to hunter/gather lifestyles, millions will perish. The best we can do is work at making food growing as efficient as possible and avoid practices like deforestation whenever practicable.
It should also be asked how wind turbines and solar panels destroy the landscape and may affect climate. We know turbines increase the surface temperature below the turbines by mixing air, much like the fans in citrus groves that are used to fight against frost.
How do skyscrapers affect climate? How do primitive villages affect climate? How does the migration of humans from one area to another affect climate?
One can go on all day with these hypotheticals. No one knows. It is generally believed that most actions in some way affect climate, but to what degree is not known and may never be known. Climate is a very complex chaotic system.
15. Will the seas rise evenly?
Unlikely. Geography and tectonics and gravity indicate it will probably be uneven. We can’t predict the pattern, so we adapt as the rise occurs.
16. Is it really about “carbon”?
NO, it’s about CO2. “Carbon” is shorter, so media people and others have taken to using that term. It is extremely unscientific, however. Carbon is an element, CO2 is a compound. Carbon is found in many, many things on Earth. This “shortcut” is another indication of the lack of science in the discussions of climate change/global warming. It’s intellectual laziness. It does make a great marking catch-phrase. It’s truly sad “science’ has sunk this low.