Global Warming: A Step by Step Look At the Key Arguments – Part 3: Do carbon emissions from humans cause global temperatures to rise?

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
-Intergovrernmental Panel on Climage Change (IPCC) – 2013

 “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”
-Barack Obama, 2014 State of Union

In the last section I noted that global temperatures stopped rising and have remained fairly constant for the last fifteen or so years.  Let’s assume, however, for this section, that this is just a pause and that global temperatures are truly rising.  The next question is to determine why they are rising.  The central premise of the global warming/climate change theory is that these change is due to increased man-made  emissions of carbon dioxide.  The additional carbon dioxide produces a greenhouse effect where heat is reflected back to earth instead of dissipating into space.

In looking at this, the first thing I need to do is to issue a disclaimer that I personally do not have the faintest bit of scientific expertise to argue for or against this theory.

Temperatures on Earth have varied greatly, long before man even existed, much less drove SUV’s.  In more recent history the middle ages had both a warming period and a little ice age.  Temperatures can change due to sunspots or changing weather patterns.    Global warming proponents have been arguing that recent changes are not random and are accelerating due to greenhouse gasses.  In 1998 Michael Mann developed the “hockey stick” graph to show this affect.  The following graph was included in the IPCC 2001 report.

Mann Hockey Stick Graph

Before even discussing the hockey stick, note how temperatures fluctuated   Clearly temperature variation is not a recent phenomenon.  Mann argued, however, that the greenhouse gasses would produce a hockey stick  effect , predicted that global temperatures would continue to rise,  and further predicted that the rise would accelerate rapidly.  As Einstein did with his theory of relativity, Mann also made predictions.  Unlike with Einstein, the data since then has not supported Mann’s predictions.  After the fact conjectures on the theory’s failure to predict, such as surmising that the ocean stores more heat, are not the same as getting the predictions right in the first place.

While computers models and theories may surmise that carbon emissions cause global warming, for the theory to be validated it should be able to predict future temperatures with statistical reliability.  This clearly has not happened.  Despite the predictions not being validated, the IPCC raised its confidence in the greenhouse effect from “very likely” in 2007 to “extremely likely” in 2013.   Barack Obama stated the debate is over.   Why would top scientists and the president say that global warming/climate change is a fact and beyond debate if it was not absolutely certain?

I remember immediately before the first Iraq war in 1991 when Carl Sagan, Cornell astronomer and one of the most famous scientists of the time, go on the television show “Nightline” and state that we should not go to war because Saddam Hussein was threatening to burn all of the Kuwaiti oil wells.  Sagan stated that if Hussein carried out his threat the smoke from the oil well fires would cause a nuclear winter which would wreck havoc on the earth’s climate.  We went to war.  Hussein carried through on his threat setting fire to 610 out of 749 oil facilities.  The fires were started in January and February 2001.  The first fire was extinguished in April and the last fire was extinguished in November.

There was no nuclear winter.  Outside of the immediate area, nobody noticed.  Sagan later stated in his book “The Demon-Haunted World” that his prediction did not turn out to be correct.  The National Science Foundation study on the atmospheric effects stated “the fires’ modest impact suggested that some numbers [used to support the Nuclear Winter hypothesis] were probably a little overblown.”

That is when I learned that whenever science and politics join together, the science should be considered suspect.  Sagan and the other scientists opposed going to war against Iraq.  They created computer models that coincidentally matched their political beliefs.  The burning oil wells showed just how wrong computer models can be.

Global warming/climate change is highly political and is also primarily driven by computer models.  There are political beliefs that we should reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for reasons other than global warming.  Global warming is also used by those who believe that central government, even a world government, should exert greater control over economics and the environment.  Global warming has become their primary argument towards this goal.

The first IPCC report was modified to enhance the doom and gloom without consulting with the original scientists.  Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Science stated, “I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report. Nearly all the changes worked to remove skepticism with which many scientists regard global warming changes.”  MIT professor of meteoriology Richard Lindzen stated that the 2001 report was primarily the work of political appointees and not scientists.

In 2009 hackers published documents from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in the U.K., a prominent center for global warming research.  These emails showed that scientists manipulated data and used their influence to suppress opposing points of view from being published.  They also refused to make their underlying data available to scientists who disagreed with them.  True scientists practicing true science do not manipulate data and do not suppress dissent.  Einstein never would have said that the debate over relativity was over.

So is global warming caused by greenhouse gasses?  I really don’t know, but despite the claims of President Obama and the IPCC, I don’t think they really know either.