Skeptic’s Dilemma

It’s not easy to maintain my man-made global warming skepticism in the face of all the television, newspaper, and scientific journal pieces that say it is so. The skeptics’ contentions are well known and most of them have been countered by publications of the IPCC and other peer reviewed sources. But still, I just can’t accept the notion that a tiny increase in carbon dioxide can disastrously change the climate. Since 1850, so they say, CO2 has increased from 3 molecules out of 10,000 to 4 molecules out of 10,000 of atmosphere (rounding up to whole numbers). This 1/10,000th increase is said to have raised the average surface temperature of the entire earth by ¾ of 1 degree, and, as the atmospheric content of CO2 reaches 8/10,000ths, we will experience runaway global warming. That seems way out of proportion, and is hard for me to believe.

I also have trouble believing that the average surface temperature of the whole earth was known to a fraction of a degree 150 years ago, and that the CO2 content of the atmosphere was known to within 3/10,000ths, since determining today’s same temperature and CO2 is an extremely complicated undertaking, requiring computer aided adjustments of many thousands of temperature monitoring stations scattered unevenly around the globe, many of which did not exist or were in different environments as long ago as 1850. Furthermore, it was only in the mid 1970’s that a credible method of sampling CO2 worldwide was perfected when an official laboratory dedicated to such measurement was established in Hawaii.

This is not to say that I dispute that the earth’s surface temperature has increased and that the proportion of CO2 has increased; I don’t. Since we know that the earth has recently experienced a glacial period when, 20,000 years ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was buried under thousands of feet of ice, and we know that burning fossil fuels produces CO2. Those are reasonable assertions.

But glacial periods and warming periods have happened many times before. Why is this time different? The IPCC says the ¾ degree of warming happened more rapidly than in the past, so natural forces cannot explain it. That just seems willfully implausible. They are asserting that they know the average surface temperature of the earth to within a fraction of a degree thousands of years ago, and that they know the rate of change that occurred during a 150 year period many centuries in the past. It looks very much as though they are untruthful.

But how to explain why several thousand scientists are so adamant in convincing the world that climatological disaster is upon us if it is not true? I have to admit that seems more than implausible, even though there are examples of widely held beliefs eventually proven false, such as: sun orbits the earth, earth is flat, bloodletting cures disease. But that was in our distant, uneducated past. Perhaps many of these scientists don’t necessarily buy in to the CO2 mantra, but are just doing the job they are funded to perform. Though anthropogenic climate change spokesmen endlessly repeat their principal argument, “an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is causing major global warming,” there are plenty of well-respected geologists and climate scientists who do not agree. Perhaps in desperation, I have imagined the following circumstances:

For reasons having nothing to do with climate, people in high places in the United Nations became convinced that world order would be better served if wealthy countries would divert more funds to developing countries, say in the form of purchasing carbon credits. Or, alternately, became convinced that the world would be better served if the use of fossil fuels were drastically reduced or eliminated, perhaps for environmental, demographic, cultural, or even economic reasons. These people then recruited a very small group of likeminded administrators to create an agency (the IPCC) to sponsor scientific studies supporting anthropogenic climate change, and funded the agency with billions of dollars. Naturally, studies that did not support global warming and the CO2 explanation were not funded. Or if they were funded and did not support manmade global warming, they were not accepted for IPCC’s version of peer review. Working scientists who participated soon realized that if they wanted funding and publication, their studies would have to be grounded on a conviction that CO2 was controlling climate. Even when based on a falsehood, scientific studies can produce a lot of impressive conjectures and convincing conclusions.

Billions of dollars have been spent funding hundreds of studies intended to establish that the average surface temperature (AST) of the earth is increasing; this despite the fact that geologists and climate scientists already knew that the AST has been increasing (in fits and starts) for 20,000+/- years, since the ending of the last glacial period. Why spend all that money to support a fact already known and accepted unless for the purpose of generating a mountain of paper work to establish a consensus for the idea of CO2 induced warming? This mountain of studies then became a source of data for the invention of computer models intended to forecast the future temperature increases and a wealth of conjectures on the dangerous and destructive effects of increased temperatures. Additional billions have been spent on these computers and climate models even though the basic software for these models presumes the uncertain and unproven fact that CO2 controls the climate, when, in fact, the controlling factors of climate are not all known and understood.

One other factor supporting my personal skepticism is the extent of politicization of the possible effects of global warming as well as its extent. It seems clear to me that both are being grossly exaggerated for the purpose of generating anxiety in the general public, thereby increasing the tendency of people to accept an idea that is only weakly supported by scientific reasoning and not at all by common sense.

My skepticism defines the term “lost cause.” All skeptics were overwhelmed some years ago. We were buried by the IPCC (funded by billions of dollars), the news media (reaping the benefits of thousands of columns of impending disaster story fodder), Politicians and heads of state (either duped by prodigious reams of pseudo facts or in on the mission), and the public’s willingness to accept implausible scenarios presented by plausible spokesmen.

We are well on the way to crippling the economies of the Americas, Western Europe, and much of Asia by means of an in vain (and vainglorious) misconception that humans have the power to counter nature’s climate. In a few decades (or millenniums) when the ice sheets start marching down from the arctic, I believe our descendants will be appalled at our foolishness.