Sebastian Zearing

how to be progressive without being a stupid liberal

Climate Change

It is claimed that the economic activities of humans since the Industrial Revolution have altered the composition of the atmosphere in ways that will affect climate by increasing the amount of energy contained in the atmosphere. One can take a variety of positions with respect to this claim:

Since 1800:
1) The globe (atmosphere/biosphere/hydrosphere/etc.) has cooled.
2) The globe has not changed.
3) The globe has warmed due mainly to natural causes, and this is not dangerous.
4) The globe has warmed due mainly to human activity, and this is not dangerous.
5) The globe has warmed due mainly to human activity, and this is dangerous.
6) The globe has warmed due mainly to human activity, and this will be catastrophic.

A position I have not supplied is “The globe has warmed due mainly to natural causes, and this is dangerous/catastrophic.” This position has no supporters as far as I understand.

1 and 2 are not merely unscientific, they are false. We have data going far enough back to demonstrate that the globe has in fact warmed. Conservatives and their politicians generally support 2 or 3. The popular scientific consciousness supports 5. Many of the most vocal proponents of Climate Change policy support 6.

20th century temperaturesFigure 1. 20th century temperatures

I am undecided between 3-5, but I am partial to 4. I believe climate models are literally nothing more than hypotheses, which have been insufficiently tested. I believe the current global warming pause illustrates that the models need not be upgraded from hypothetical status. I believe the increase in certainty from IPCC reports 4 (2007) to 5 (2013) is almost purely political. My opinion will be much more concrete after the next few years of Arctic ice have been documented.

This is extremely facile, but it seems that the current climate change hysteria is based on the accelerative extrapolation of trends from 1970-2000 (~2.7ºC/century). Extrapolation of trends from 1940-2000 (~1ºC/century), however, are probably closer to the mark. It is worth noting the coincidence of the global cooling hysteria with the downward trend that ended around 1970.

Where do you stand on the scale?

Advertisements

One response to “Climate Change

  1. Pingback: Climate Change Revisited | Sebastian Zearing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: