Hope you folks don’t mind me sharing an essay I just finished - any feedback (grammatical or philosophical) would be appreciated
It’s intended for the local paper, but those buggers have a nasty habit of editorially mangling a letter’s intent, so I was curious to see what others might think of this before I send it out.
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Perhaps the most popular argument global warming “skeptics” use against the “climatological consensus” regarding people caused global warming is attacking the iconic Mann “hockey stick” graph. Many argue Mann’s team intentionally misrepresented data in order to mute the celebrated Medieval Warming Period signal. The reasoning goes that these scientists did so to unduly alarm the public about the seriousness of our society injecting more than a couple billion gigatons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere month after month.
The Republican message is that the supposedly doctored hockey stick was part of a plan to hobble growth of our consumer/industrial/military/oil complex. As an aside, some also claim: scientists want to promote a one world government and actually shut down our economy altogether. Sounds a bit silly to me, but so long as the Republican mass media machine focuses the discussion on that story line, it leaves no time for considering the actual critical issues facing all of us. With that introduction here’s some MWP back story.
Regarding Mann’s tree-ring studies. It was a young science and a work in progress, Mann’s further studies incorporated lessons learned. The “skeptical” demand of some perfection is at best disingenuous, at worst willfully ignorant of how science works. After all science is a learning process.
The valid corrections that did result from the champion “skeptic” statistician Steve McIntyre’s work amounted to slivers of adjustments to Mann’s original graph and did not overturn, or add, anything of dramatic substance. Yet the denier echo-chamber keeps trying to present those tiny corrections as somehow overturning the whole field of climatology, something that’s pure political propaganda far removed from real facts.
While Mann focused on tree ring data, since 2000 dozens of independent teams have studied and published reports using many other natural recorders of Earth’s climate variability - yet the same basic hockey stick shape keeps appearing.
As for the Medieval Warm Period, it certainly happened. However, as more information has been gathered these past decades, the image resolving is of a MWP who’s extremes were centered on Atlantic ocean currents, the North Atlantic and Europe. The increasing evidence points toward a combination of factors: an ebb in global cooling caused by a lull in vulcanism; a period of more intense Earth warming solar activity; and most dramatically ocean current oscillations.
We should be clear that these factors are playing a part in today’s situation. Volcanoes have been adding their cooling aerosols; our sun is at a historic minimum, so it’s actually helping cool Earth. And, although oceans are known to be warming, there has been no extreme heat flux in the North Atlantic as studies indicate occurred during the MWP. For these reasons climatologists will point out that the MWP, even if it were warmer than studies indicate tells us nothing about today’s unique global warming situation.
The reason the MWP tells us nothing about today’s situation is because of those greenhouse gases we keep hearing about. Previous to 1800, CO2 levels hovered around 280 (±15) ppm for around 400,000 years giving our biosphere the stability to develop to the biological cornucopia that the age of discovery learned to exploit so well. It wasn’t until the 1800s that atmospheric CO2 started increasing, then a hundred years later that rate of increase really kicked in with our society’s exponentially increasing consumption of coal, oil, gasoline and other carbon based energy sources. Currently, our atmosphere has surpassed 390 ppm, a level unexperienced on Earth in over ten million years.
Today all but the most committed quacks agree that CO2 is indeed a potent greenhouse gas and significant regulator of our planet’s temperature. And while there isn’t agreement on the exact amount of CO2’s atmospheric warming, the arguments are over fine details. And of course, there is the other complication of how Earth’s many feedback mechanisms will magnify that initial direct CO2 warming.
However, we should find no comfort in that uncertainty, since Earth observations of the past two decades are revealing that past IPCC predictions have been erring on the conservative side. A good-faith review of observation studies across the full spectrum of Earth processes is resolving an image of changes happening faster and effecting more than has been previously hinted at. Yes, this is cause for alarm.
What the so-call Global Warming Skeptics ignore is that this isn’t a parlor game of who can best manipulate the “debate.” We are talking harsh real down to Earth consequences, that are already beginning to be felt across the planet and that promise only to get worse as the Republicans continue their contemptuous political games geared toward faith-based willful ignorance of science. When are we the people going to demand of our politicians that faith-based dreams no longer trump real down to Earth science.
[This one just doesn’t seem want to lose any words ~ -6=803 words]