Saturday, January 3, 2009

Climate Change Consternation

People who know me will know that I'm skeptical about the climate change religion that has spread across society. Its not that I don't believe that pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air won't affect the environment, its just that I don't believe that scientists today truly understand our weather patterns.

Where I grew up meteorologists could not predict the weather tomorrow with any degree of accuracy, let alone that of next weekend. Now some people say "but we're looking at long term trends - those are easier to predict". Of course not.

Do you think scientists seriously believe that the climate change models that they have available today are accurate depictions of what is really going on? To quote from an article in the November 2008 issue Physics Today by Roger A. Pielke Sr:
Although four years is a relatively short period of analysis, the absence of heating of the magnitude reported by Hansen and his collaborators and the 2007 IPCC report should raise issues with respect to our level of understanding of the climate system, since the global climate model projections used by the IPCC predict more or less monotonic accumulation of heat in the Earth system.
Does that mean that he doesn't believe in climate change (or is a 'climate change denier' as hysterics would say)? Not at all, but I'll let him speak for himself:
Human actions that influence the climate system include the radiative forcing from added atmospheric CO2 but also include the biogeochemical influence of CO2, and a variety of atmospheric aerosol forcings, nitrogen deposition onto land and the oceans, and land-cover changes. Each of these factors influence long-term weather statistics as well as other aspects of the climate.
His main complaint is thusly:
The IPCC assessment process focused mainly on the effects of CO2 and devoted less attention to the effect of the other human climate forcings in altering the global climate system.
To sum it up, climate change is more complicated that we are making it out to be and it involves more than just carbon dioxide. So a solution that say, tears up the rainforests in order to produce ethanol might be a bad thing.

But if I believe as I said, that pumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air can't be a good thing, then why wouldn't I be a big proponent of Kyoto and oppose Canada joining it?

For one thing, if carbon dioxide is the cause of global warming, most scientists think we're too late anyways. Which makes sense to some extent, even if we were to stop putting out carbon dioxide now, we'd still see the effect lingering for decades to come as the Earth comes to a balance again.

As an aside, what I find really interesting about the previous article that I quoted was that a majority of scientists polled believe that some form of massive geoengineering should be studied as a solution. Are we that crazy? We're talking about screwing with the most complicated system known! A system that we don't fully understand! As a kid did you ever smash apart a watch only to realize that you don't have a clue how to put it back together?

Secondly, Kyoto isn't necessarily about reducing emissions. Countries that produce too much, simply buy their way out with carbon credits. From this article:

To offset these increases in emissions Japan has bought credits from China through the clean development mechanism – an instrument set up by the Kyoto protocol – yet China's emissions have continued to increase rapidly.
This was, by the way, one of my primary disagreements with the carbon tax as well. Rich people would still be able to afford to pollute, they'd just pay a little more for it. Poor people meanwhile would be made reliant on government credits just to get by.

So Kyoto isn't the answer. But what is then? Honestly? I don't know.

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