Climate Change Facts-What Do We Know?


If you are ever on the jury in a murder trial in which you hear conflicting evidence you’ll be very careful in reaching your decision of whether to convict or acquit because one of your fellow citizen’s freedom, or perhaps life, will be at stake. You will want to be sure you make the correct decision so that justice will be done.

How will you proceed? Well, as is usual, not all of the evidence will be in conflict. Those facts that both prosecutor and defense counsel agree upon will be very important to you. You will not have to agonize over the uncontested issues; those facts will be established for you. You can then weigh all of the other evidence in light of those things you already know. As to each fact issue you will ask yourself and your fellow jurors, which of two or more possible findings of fact will be most consistent with what we already know to be true?

Now let’s say you are not a juror in a murder trial, but like all of us you are an ordinary citizen trying to make sense of all the information and disinformation you have heard and read over the last 25 years of controversy about global warming and/or climate change. If there are facts we know with reasonable certainty, those will be important to our decision. All other claims should be judged by how consistent they are with the facts we can know and trust.

According to Lee C. Gerhard, retired geologist at the University of Kansas and expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate scientists, at least the ones that employ the scientific method instead of conducting themselves as lawyers trying to win a court case, have established some facts that are well known.

Says Mr. Gerhard in this article at Icecap:

Greenhouse gases and their effects are well-known. Here are some of things we know:

• The most effective greenhouse gas is water vapor, comprising approximately 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

• Carbon dioxide concentration has been continually rising for nearly 100 years. It continues to rise, but carbon dioxide concentrations at present are near the lowest in geologic history.

• Temperature change correlation with carbon dioxide levels is not statistically significant.

• There are no data that definitively relate carbon dioxide levels to temperature changes.

• The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide logarithmically declines with increasing concentration. At present levels, any additional carbon dioxide can have very little effect.

We also know a lot about Earth temperature changes:

• Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

• The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

• Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

• Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the “hockey stick” graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

• During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

Contrary to many public statements:

• Effects of temperature change are absolutely independent of the cause of the temperature change.

• Global hurricane, cyclonic and major storm activity is near 30-year lows. Any increase in cost of damages by storms is a product of increasing population density in vulnerable areas such as along the shores and property value inflation, not due to any increase in frequency or severity of storms.

• Polar bears have survived and thrived over periods of extreme cold and extreme warmth over hundreds of thousands of years – extremes far in excess of modern temperature changes.

• The 2009 minimum Arctic ice extent was significantly larger than the previous two years. The 2009 Antarctic maximum ice extent was significantly above the 30-year average. There are only 30 years of records.

• Rate and magnitude of sea level changes observed during the last 100 years are within normal historical ranges. Current sea level rise is tiny and, at most, justifies a prediction of perhaps ten centimeters rise in this century.

The present climate debate is a classic conflict between data and computer programs. The computer programs are the source of concern over climate change and global warming, not the data. Data are measurements. Computer programs are artificial constructs.

Public announcements use a great deal of hyperbole and inflammatory language. For instance, the word “ever” is misused by media and in public pronouncements alike. It does not mean “in the last 20 years,” or “the last 70 years.” “Ever” means the last 4.5 billion years.

For example, some argue that the Arctic is melting, with the warmest-ever temperatures. One should ask, “How long is ever?” The answer is since 1979. And then ask, “Is it still warming?” The answer is unequivocally “No.” Earth temperatures are cooling. Similarly, the word “unprecedented” cannot be legitimately used to describe any climate change in the last 8,000 years.

I would add one more fact to Professor Gerhard’s list. We know for sure that if it were not for the greenhouse effect on earth there would be no life on earth, at least not any like we know. That is because the constant temperature would be about minus 300 degrees Celsius below zero (I could be wrong about the actual number of degrees, but it would be way too cold for any sort of life that now exists on this planet).

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