The Strange History Of AGW Alarmism

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by pspr, May 3, 2013.

  1. pspr


    By the 1830s the science now called "glaciology" was emerging. Swiss and French scientists studying Alpine glacier advance and retreat had pieced together data on historical, meteorological, economic and agricultural changes in the Alpine region and constructed models for glacier advance and retreat that were unsettling to established scientific opinion. In particular the also-emerging science of what is now called "geology" was dominated at the time by the views of the "father of modern geology", the British scientist James Hutton, who was opposed to glaciology from the start.

    Before the glaciologists, in the 1790s, Hutton had given his Christian theology-flavoured view on geological processes. He summed up his opinion of very slow processes outside of all possible human influence with the celebrated one-liner: "No trace of a beginning, no prospect of an end".

    Swiss and French glaciologists, such as de Saussure, Contejean, Perraudin, Thurmann, Cuvier, Wetzel and others did not agree. Their studies brought them to the conclusion that glacier advance and retreat can be rapid on a historical timeframe and basis. In as little as 30 years, with regional climatic, tectonic, geomorphological and even human geographical factors accelerating the process, glaciers can move into advance mode or retreat mode. When in either, the process gains momentum and can continue for several decades or longer. despite external changes countering it.

    Glacial advance and retreat may be slow to start, but once started it accelerates. When in advancing mode, glaciers have a major downward effect on local and regional temperatures, and in the early 19th century this was the major fear. On a very broad basis, the 300 years from 1500-1800 are called "Europe's Little ice Age", but events such as the Dalton sunspot cycle minima of 1808-15 (in Cycles 5 and 6), both of them very weak, probably prolonged the Little Ice Age after a brief interlude of warming in the 1775-1795 period. In all of the northern hemisphere, the year 1816 was called "the year with no summer", but this is usually attributed only to the 1815 Tambora tectonic-volcanic explosion, 10 times more powerful than the 1883 Krakatau explosion. Tambora blasted 12 cubic miles of dust, rock and gas into the atmosphere, submerging the island of Sumbawa with incandescent ash and lava, and instantly killed about 10 000 persons.

    Hutton strongly rejected the arguments of the early glaciologists. Irrationally given his attachment to Biblical-timescale changes, he however supported fellow English scientist Joseph Priestley, the discoverer of oxygen, who from 1791 believed that "phlogiston" accumulations, of CO2, in the atmosphere due to burning coal and wood were major causes of local warming, bad weather, and crop losses. Priestley was very attached to this theory. He supported the American revolution because he hoped that English migration to the "new" continent could reduce the social damage that would result from what he believed was runaway climate change in England caused by the Industrial Revolution inducing local climate warming, by fossil fuel burning. Priestley was declared a traitor by the press, had his Birmingham house burned down by a raging mob and was lucky to escape alive to the US.

    The fear of cooling in Europe, especially in continental Europe, persisted. Glacier advance was shown to be no respecter of human beings - they got out of the way of glaciers, or died. In particular the early glaciologists and botanists, and their pedologist colleagues showed that a period of glacier advance leaves an impoverished soil behind, often taking centuries or more to make good. Human attempts in Europe's Alpine region to control or deviate glacier advance were shown to be puny, but the human role in inadvertently favouring glacier advance, once it had started, was sometimes more significant.

    The “Little Ice Age” showed that finding clear causal linkage with human activity was difficult or impossible at the aggregate scale of the Earth's climate. All the changes towards large numbers of long cold winters, dull and dry springs and cool, short, mostly dry summers took place without it being possible to say that mankind was responsible. Only in specific local cases of glacier advance or retreat was it possible to identify human action as either accelerating or sometimes slowing the two processes. Today - of course this is not "politically correct science" - many scientists believe the "short warming" mostly in the northern hemisphere, of about 1980-2000, may have been the result of recovery from the long 1500-1800 cold period.

    Honest scientists add that how this happened is not yet understood.

    By the 1860s the subject of energy had become a major theme in science. The early thermodynamists including Carnot and Thompson had shown that temperature measurements only concern energy flux and do not necessarily correlate with a short-term build up or decrease in heat quantity or thermal mass, because energy changes are subject to thermal inertia. Apart from heat mass, several other parameters have an influence on temperature and when this concerns the Earth's atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere and oceanosphere, temperature flux and thermal mass can be treated as unrelated under certain periods of elapsed time. The rapid growth of atomic science also had a major influence on scientific thinking from the 1870s, with the development of knowledge on light radiation, radiative flux and absorbtion, leading to the concept of "greenhouse behaviour" of the gases making up the Earth's atmosphere.

    Here again we have a major irony. By the 1890s the American scientist Pierpoint Langley had used observations of the Moon's radiation of reflected sunlight towards the Earth, at different angles, in his attempt to measure the temperature of the Moon. Where the moon's surface receives solar radiation, the local temperature can reach 250 degrees degF (plus 120 degC), but the "dark side of the moon" has temperatures dipping to minus 160 degC. Langley's related studies of CO2 absorbtion spectra of the Earth's atmosphere showed that CO2 and especially water vapour help reduce temperature extremes, preventing the deadly cold of the Moon's "dark side" surface. In turn, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius a decade after Langley used the latter's observations of increased infrared absorption when Moon rays pass through the Earth's atmosphere at a low angle, encountering more carbon dioxide, to estimate an atmospheric cooling effect from any future decrease of CO2. Arrhenius was in particular concerned about the Earth's climate shifting to another cooling phase and realized that a cooler atmosphere would necessarily hold less water vapour, and this would further depress temperatures by creating an additional cooling effect.

    Arrhenius can be considered the real "father of global warming" as a scientific theory. However his concern, many times stated by him, in writing, was that global cooling was a constant threat to mankind. He believed that "anthropogenic" CO2 emissions, by building up the CO2 content of the atmosphere would slow down the cooling trend - but not stop it - and could buy time for us all.

    As we know, the IPCC only exists since 1988 and is above all controversial. It has been obliged by merited criticism from eminent scientists to formally state: “…long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible”. However the same IPCC felt able to publish the totally inaccurate “Hockey-stick” curve, known as "Mann’s curve" no less than 6 times in various reports, but was forced to withdraw it after "Climategate" became a world media event in 2009.

    From its start the IPCC has had a bias in favour of "the CO2 warming hypothesis". This is necessarily a "warmist" bias.

    The relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature, as shown by the Vostok ice cores, proves that a build up of CO2 typically occurs 800 to 1000 years after an increase in temperature is observed. Hence all previous cases in all geological time of a build up of CO2 were due to climate warming, not its cause. Climate warming always preceded a CO2 increase.

    Today however, both mass media and politicians still pretend we must believe that the exact opposite has miraculously occurred. In an unattributed return to the era and rather primitive thinking of Priestley, the arch-warmist Janes Hansen (no longer at NASA) now claims that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere have not caused global warming, because of "biosphere fertilization" by CO2. Priestley, in the 1790s claimed that "phlogiston", basically CO2, which he obtained by burning biomass in closed containers until combustion stopped, was recycled by plants and sunlight. As well known and proven today, plants grow faster when "phlogiston", that is CO2 levels, increase.

    What we can be rather sure of is that Hutton's "no prospect of an end" does not apply to junk science claims that Global Warming Apocalypse is just around the corner, that the warming of 1980-2000 was due to CO2 from fossil fuel burning and will continue. The prospect and threat of global cooling is alive and well. Like glaciers it has no respect for human beings who get in its way!

    By Andrew McKillop


    Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission.