A View From the Cheap Seats

April 16, 2008

Talk About Inconvenient

Filed under: Environment,Global Warming — trzupek @ 2:41 pm

EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – APRIL 16, 2008

By Rich Trzupek

Global warming, or more properly the theory that human activity is causing global warming, died last month. It will surely take some time for the mainstream media and political types to notice the body, but we can finally say “rest in peace” with certainty. Actually, “good riddance” would be more like it.

We can thank one Dr. Roy Spencer, an award-winning atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama  in Huntsville, and NASA satellites, for the evidence that put the dagger into the heart of global warming. Understanding exactly why you are now free to toss out your fluorescent light bulbs without guilt involves a bit of science, but – as always – your humble correspondent will be gentle.

You have probably heard global warming theory explained in the following way: carbon dioxide “causes global warming”, through a “greenhouse effect”. This over-simplification suggests that the more carbon dioxide man pours into the atmosphere, the hotter the planet will get, because more and more heat will be “reflected”.

Scientists (even those who support global warming theory) don’t actually believe that. For reasons that would bore you to tears, the more carbon dioxide you put in the atmosphere, the less “warming” effect it has.

The popular analogy is to imagine painting over a window. The first coat blocks out a whole lot of light, the second just a bit more, the third even less, and so on, until by the time you get to the fourth or fifth coat it really doesn’t matter anymore. We’re pretty much at that point with carbon dioxide and, except for a few goofballs, scientists on both sides of the debate have long accepted that.

So why all the panic about carbon dioxide? In order for carbon dioxide to have a substantial effect on earth’s climate, some scientist theorized that a “feedback mechanism” was at work. Under this theory, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause increased evaporation of water from the surface of the earth. This water in turn would end up in the upper atmosphere and, because water vapor is an exceptionally strong greenhouse gas, it would heat the planet up significantly.

It’s important to note that the prediction is that water vapor travels into the upper atmosphere. Because, if it doesn’t – if it ends up in the lower atmosphere – it will form clouds and be returned to the earth as rain, thus actually cooling the planet at bit.

You’re probably thinking (assuming you’re still with me) that knowing where the clouds form is kind of important. The doomsday models predict that the water ends up in the upper atmosphere, but with satellites and high tech sensors we should be able to figure out where it actually goes, right?

To quote the late, great Johnny Carson: you are correct Johnny Walker breath. And, in fact, NASA has a satellite called Aqua, with the capabilities to check it out. The returns are in, courtesy of a summary paper that Spencer released in March, and the results are…

(Drum roll please).

1) No increased high level cloud formation.

2) Increased low level cloud formation.

3) Therefore: “feedback” doesn’t exist.

So sorry Mr. Gore. No washer and dryer. No brand new car. Hope you enjoy your parting gifts and thanks for playing “Failed Divinity Students Pretend to Understand Science at Their Own Risk”. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out buddy.

Without feedback, carbon dioxide can’t play any substantial role in creating climate change. Without carbon dioxide, one can’t point the finger at power plants, or automobiles, or any human activity. We are forced to look to the heavens instead, where a big ball of plasma might provide some answers, as some of us have been saying all along.

Don’t expect to see any decrease in the official hysteria level for some time of course. Leo and Babs and George will continue to fly around the world in private jets to make people feel guilty about using energy. Al will continue to preach disaster and, for the most part, a technically ignorant media will lap it all up.

What will happen, slowly, is that scientific support for global warming theory will continue to erode. Chinks in the armor of the doomsayers have already appeared, with the head of the International Panel for Climate Changes subcommittee on feedback admitting that Spencer and Aqua are right and he was wrong.

Eventually, it will be impossible to ignore all of the dissenters and defectors. The mainstream media and politicians will begin to distance themselves from the cause, slowly backing away, oh-so-carefully, hoping no one will notice.

And, in the long run, few will remember. If history tells us anything about environmental crusaders, it tells us that being right or wrong doesn’t really matter. They’ll just move on to the next big “threat”. That’s a good thing for yours truly I suppose, since they keep me gainfully employed in the day job, but I can help but wonder: how many times do the same people have to be wrong before we stop listening to them?

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10 Comments »

  1. Finally! Someone who understands the facts and thinks logically in this illogical world we live in! I thoroughly enjoyed your article in the St. Charles Examiner. Same thing I have been thinking for a long time now. Help stop the madness!

    Comment by Pam — April 18, 2008 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  2. what is troubling is the level of air pollution associated with carbon monoxide, the sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides, and especially the heavy metal particulates traveling through our lower atmosphere.

    we breathe and inhale these noxious compounds, we allow carcinogenic materials to thicken the earth’s blanket. that–is indeed something to cause us to change our industrial age behavior.

    nothing exists in and of itself, it is the sum total of consequences which must be corrected. too many trucks in one neighborhood smell toxic, are toxic and create a dangerous atmosphere for all of us. we know that, without NASA.

    Comment by greenadine — April 18, 2008 @ 9:30 pm | Reply

  3. Congratulations, by investigating what constitutes for about 5% of the total theory of Global Warming, you have managed to come to the conclusion that climate change doesn’t exist in-spite of the vast amount of research that concludes the exact opposite.

    [Comment edited for inappropriate content]

    If you want to make claims about the validity of global warming which will convince anybody at all then you will need to do better than this.

    Comment by Mark @ TalkClimateChange — April 19, 2008 @ 3:03 am | Reply

  4. Thanks for the above comments, as always. Regarding greenadine’s point, I would urge everyone to realize that – in the United States – we have reduced the emissions of the criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and lead) by over 50% since the Clean Air Act was first implemented in the 70’s. This trend has continued over the last 8 years, despite some of the representations to the contrary that you may read in the media. Additionally, the imposition of Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) standards over the last 10 years has significantly reduced emissions of all types of toxic compounds, including heavy metals, in this country.

    That said, as more and more of the world’s manufacturing output transfers to Asia, there is significant danger of those types of emissions increasing across the Pacific, because countries like China and India don’t have anything like the environmental standards that we do. I would hope that, as we go on, we would put at least some portion of our environmental efforts into assisting that part of the world into doing better with the resources they have.

    Regarding Mark’s comments, a portion of his post that attacked Dr. Spencer on the basis of the Doc’s religious beliefs has been removed, as it was both irrelevant and a personal attack. Pointless personal attacks are often welcome in this blog, so long as the target is one of the following: 1) me, 2) a public figure, or 3) someone else offering a comment. Dr. Spencer fills none of these criteria and I’m quite certain that Mark can find many other outlets to criticize Dr. Spencer’s scientific research on the basis of his religion.

    A careful reading of the substantive portion of Mark’s comments indicates that he is a new reader to this particular blog, so – for his benefit and the benefit of other new visitors – we will repeat what veteran Examiner and Cheap Seats readers already know:

    First, Mark’s reference to my “research” indicates that he believes I am another random right-wing blogger who doesn’t actually understand the science. In fact, I am a chemist by degree, have been doing air quality work in the day job for 25 years, have written a reference book on the subject for McGraw-Hill (along with a host of research papers and articles for trade publications) and have – unlike Mark, I suspect – actually done a good deal of computer modeling. This writing gig is, as my daughter says, my “jobby” – a part-time hobby that happens to pay me a bit of beer money. Thus, when I draw the conclusions that I did, it’s not based on “research”, it’s based on being a scientist who actually understands the issues involved.

    Second, we can interpret the criticism that this column covers “5% of global warming theory” in one of two ways. If the intent is to say that global warming advocates spend 95% of their time saying that the planet has been going through a recent warming trend, then I would agree. And, though some of the temperature data is a bit crappy (to use a technical term), I think that we are going through a bit of a warming cycle. That is neither unusual, nor unnatural, in my view and the view of many other scientists.

    If, on the other hand, his intent is to say that “feedback” theory represents 5% of the “evidence” that human activity is responsible for the recent warming trend, then I must heartily disagree. The International Panel on Climate Change – the folks pushing this whole agenda – would disagree as well. Without “feedback”, there’s no way that humans influence the climate to any significant degree. One may argue that Spencer and Aqua have not killed feedback theory (and one would be wrong – which is OK), but any attempt to discount feedback as the only theoretical route for human activity to influence the climate simply demonstrates ignorance of the actual science involved.

    Comment by trzupek — April 19, 2008 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  5. Put your hand on a burner, it hurts. Take your hand off a burner, it doesn’t hurt. Repeat for 650,000 years. Now put your hand on the burner and leave it there. Those are all of the “facts” I need. When CO2 goes up, heat goes up and right now we are off the charts UP. When you heat up ice, it melts. End of story.

    Even if YOU don’t believe in climate change, Wall Street sure does. If you have a portfolio of mutual funds or are running a company, you better be getting on board or you won’t have a business to run in ten years. It’s ok if don’t believe it’s real Rich, but I’m betting that you’re moving your retirement funds around to hedge your bet.

    Comment by Mary — April 20, 2008 @ 7:56 am | Reply

  6. Sorry Rick, for me you are limiting your scope of inquiry to the facts that support your views. The rest of the facts – that is the 95% of the facts are not AT ALL supporting the stuff you are publishing with great authority.
    Since I don’t want to just serve you my opinions, here are some facts: Please check the work of Dr. Richard Alley – who is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr Alley has spent a life time traveling to the North Pole and to Greenland with his Graduate Students to extract ice cores from the Greenland glaciers to look at the long term evolution of CO2 in the atmosphere and its relationship with temperatures.
    Here is a testimony from Dr. Alley before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works in 2007: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=ae36e024-3024-4378-b370-0d30b5408ed1

    Worse of all, the scientific community in this country and in the rest of the world is not supporting your views either – Chemistry degree or not.
    We are at the point that even the evidence obvious to the naked eye is not supporting your theories either.
    I just hope that you will not wait until your home is flooded by excessive rainfall or that your area turns into a dust bowl from years of continuous drought to get convince that the time to act on Global Warming is NOW.
    Good Luck.

    Comment by Jayma19 — April 20, 2008 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  7. Give it up Rich. Some of these individuals are obvioulsy smarter than you. Perhaps your company should hire these “consultants” to help us learn how misinformed we truly are.

    I have also heard that Dick Cheney and Halliburton have designed a sun space module that can withstand the heat from the sun. It is also rumored that he starts huge fires inside the sun in order to increase solar activity so that the sun would warm the earth even more. Halliburton also designed a toime machine so Bush and Cheney could destroy the ecosytem from the Juarassic era. That’s the reason, not flatulence from dinosaurs.

    Now it’s back to my tinfoil hat and my rice krispies.

    Comment by Wild Bill — April 21, 2008 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  8. toime=time.

    My tinfoil hat was on way too tight!

    Comment by Wild Bill — April 21, 2008 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  9. To the list compiled by John Brignell of 600+ terrible things caused by global warming, from attacks by killer jellyfish to an increase in the number of laid-off workers (see

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/11/everything_is_caused_by_global.html ),

    we can now add another: it generates as lame a collection of editorial responses as one could possibly imagine.

    In no particular order:

    Mary – your contention that when CO2 goes up, heat goes up has things exactly backwards, at least in terms of the geological record. My 10 year old said it best, after watching Al Gore’s film, and then the video response to it: “First it gets hot, then the CO2 goes up”. And yes, Mary, that big ol’ graph Al shows in his flic actually illustrates that point (the temperature rises first, then (about 800 years later) the concentration of CO2 responds by rising) – he just didn’t bother to point that out to you. (He did admit it to Congress, however).

    Mark – I didn’t get to read your comment slandering Roy Spencer for his religious views, but thankfully your ilk didn’t have significant influence historically.

    Just a couple of examples: Michael Faraday was a lay minister in the Sandemanian sect, a spin-off of the Scottish Presbyterian church; it was a sect that practiced primitive Christian rituals such as foot-washing before communion. Thankfully, we’ve decided we can still use Faraday’s law in dealing with electricity despite this terrible failing of its namesake.

    And Isaac Newton, voted by the Royal Society ahead of Einstein as the most influential scientist of all time, was a believer who actually wrote more on religion than science. Somehow Newton’s laws have managed to survive despite that appalling taint.

    Mark and Jaymer apparently both belong to the “Let’s pull a number out of our *ss” school of science, and apparently that number is 95%. Rich T. ignores 95% of the total global warming theory. Rich T.’s arguments aren’t supported by 95% of the facts. Where the heck do they come up with these numbers? Hey, here’s a novel idea – try a real argument with real logic instead of tossing around meaningless percentages that happen to sound good to you.

    And finally Jaymer – you get the award for the most useless punt-of-an-actual-rebuttal-by-appeal-to-a-reference, community newspaper sub-category.

    Now the Alley paper in question is great if you’re interested in intriguing ice flow processes, the comparison of ice sheets to Gothic cathedrals, or the physics of pancake batter. But if you’re trying to address the question at hand – how much influence does human activity have on climate change – it’s practically irrelevant.

    That question comes up only three times in the paper, and briefly each time.

    At one point Alley states that strong scientific evidence reaffirms that human activities are changing the composition of the planet’s atmosphere (duh – if you pass gas you’re “changing the composition of the atmosphere”, and you don’t need strong scientific evidence to prove it), and that “this is warming the climate”. Umhhhh – that’s a statement, not an argument. We’re all allowed to make those; but absent support, statements have limited validity.

    Earlier on, Alley refers to “strong evidence for the dominant role of warming, which is primarily caused by human activities”. Another statement, although this time it’s associated with the IPCC. Rich T’s whole point is a refutation of a key feature of the IPCC position – and Alley’s statement addresses nothing related to that refutation.

    And finally there’s a reference by Alley to a paper by Rahmstorf comparing IPCC projections on global temperature and sea level variations to changes in CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 6 years. Again, the topic doesn’t address the foundational question on the modeling that Rich T wrote about. And it also raises an interesting question – why is a 6 year period significant when it supports a particular view of man-made global warming, but a 25 year period (from 1950’s to the 1970’s) too short a time-period to mean anything if there’s a cooling trend?

    Comment by David Johansen — April 23, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Reply

  10. […] predicted in my April 16 column (“Talk About Inconvenient”) the long retreat has begun, as the climate change crowd struggles how to explain that the […]

    Pingback by The Death of Global Warming - Following Up « A View From the Cheap Seats — April 30, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply


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