Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Climate Change (aka Global Warming)

This posting is based on a talk to the Technology, Engineering, Science Plus Club, The Villages, FL, 26 May 2011. This group is a well-educated audience familiar with science and technology, but not necessarily fully cognizant regarding the current controversy.

Powerpoint charts available for download here

Skeptic Strategy for Talking About Global Warming

This Powerpoint chart set may be used as the basis for a skeptic-oriented talk or debate about Climate Change (aka Global Warming). Talking points are provided in the Notes section of each chart to help understand the main points made.

My “credentials” for preparing this slide set include:

  • Guest Contributor to the most popular climate website in the world, http://wattsupwiththat.com/author/iraglickstein/

  • Associate Professor of System Engineering at University of Maryland

  • System Engineer (Advanced Avionics and Visionics, Route Planning, Decision Aiding, Five Patents ... at IBM, Lockheed-Martin)

  • PhD in System Science (Binghamton University, 1996); MS in System Science (Binghamton); Bachelors in Electrical Engineering (CCNY)


If you saw the highly-rated 2006 movie An “Inconvenient” Truth you probably remember the scene depicted in the photo above.

Former VP Al Gore shows the ice core record of carbon dioxide (CO2 – in red) and temperature (in blue) over the past 600,000 years and he points out the obvious correlation between the two curves. When one goes up, so does the other. When one goes down, so does the other.

He then mounts a platform and is lifted high on the stage, showing how high CO2 levels are getting. He is then raised even higher to indicate where CO2 levels will be 30 years hence at the rate we are going if nothing is done about them.

The implication is that, if CO2 reaches that level, temperatures, which are clearly well-correlated, will rise as well. OMG ! At those high temperatures, the Arctic and Antarctic ice caps will melt, exposing the bare Earth beneath, reducing the albedo of the Surface and causing still more short-wave Solar energy to be absorbed. That could lead to still more warming and a “tipping point” catastrophe of major proportions. As the ice melts, low-lying islands and coastal areas will be submerged, killing and displacing billions of people.

Clearly, something needs to be done on a worldwide basis to stop further burning of fossil fuels and land use activities that reduce the albedo.

The message was so powerful that it earned Al Gore and his movie an Oscar and a Nobel prize in 2007. It came to be known as Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Global Warming (CAGW).

But wait, there is more to the story! If we examine the ice core data carefully, we discover that the temperatures rise about 800 years or more before the CO2 goes up. Temperature also falls 800 or more years before CO2 goes down. This lag of temperature behind CO2 is true for the entire 600,000 year ice core record. OOPS, is this another “inconvenient” truth?

Yes, there is correlation and possibly causation. But, in which direction?

HMMM .. If A “causes “ B, then A has to happen before B. Right? If, as Gore implies, CO2 “causes” temperatures to rise, then one would expect CO2 to rise before temperatures. Right?

Thus, all the ice core data proves is that temperature “causes” CO2 –or– that something else causes both temperature and CO2.

Those who believe that higher CO2 will cause temperatures to rise, due to the Atmospheric “greenhouse effect” point to the unprecedented levels of burning of fossil fuels and the undoubted rise of CO2. But, if it is unprecedented, and due to human activities, what does the ice core record have to tell us about the current situation? Humans could have had absolutely no role in the Global Warming and Global Cooling cycles of the ice ages. So, why did Gore bring it up?

Ira Glickstein

1 comment:

seriousfun said...

I saw your presentation at Wattsupwiththat. It is realy good, clear and succinct. Thank you.

The one theme that is lacking in your presentation is that you don't question the hypothosis that CO2 and global warming will be bad for the planet. Plants need CO2, water, warmth and nutrients to grow. Higher levels of CO2 and warmer temperatures will promote plant growth that will certainly improve crop yields. I can't quote a proper study, but I believe the increase in farmable regions in the north will more than offset farmland submerged by rising sea levels. We know that we can deal with warmer temperatures, we can't deal with significantly cooler temperatures, so we should all be relieved that CO2 warms the earth (or at least doesn't cool it).