I want to get this off my chest. I just don’t understand the global warming debate. I mean, I get the scientific theory underlying global warming. What I don’t understand is how Americans, who freely admit to being scientifically illiterate on most other subjects, are suddenly all experts on this issue. My guess is that what’s really going on is that global warming is just another form of theology to most of these people. After all, it’s a lot easier to just assume one’s conclusion on something that requires thought and analysis than to actually have to read something on the subject, right?
And that’s too bad. Because, whether you want to believe it or not, the basic science behind global warming is really very simple. And it works like this. If we were to pump carbon dioxide into a clear glass cylinder and expose it to a light source, the temperature of the gas inside the cylinder will rise higher than would a glass cylinder filled with ambient (regular) air. This is because the carbon dioxide slows that rate at which the gas inside the glass can dissipate the energy the glass absorbs from the light source. We can run that experiment 100 times and the result will be the same every time. Believe me. Better yet, do it yourself. Everyone who runs this test will get the same result, whether liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. It’s just one of the characteristics of carbon dioxide that it does this. And that’s one of the nice thing about science. You don’t get to vote on it. The physical world will continue to do what it does regardless of your individual opinions, thoughts and desires. So all you really need to remember is this – all other things being equal, the more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the higher the temperature will tend to be.
Now I understand, and so does everyone else, that, while the scientific principal behind global warming is simple, the earth is a complex system and there are other variables in play. And so, the global mean temperature is subject to a lot of other potential influencers. As a matter of precise science, the impact of these other influencers at any given time makes modeling the precise timing and impact of global warming very difficult. And it’s these details that the global warming sceptics are really quibbling about when they attack the theory. It’s the complexity that gives them the ability to interject a bunch of “maybes” into the argument. Maybe increased water vapor in the air will counteract the effects of the carbon dioxide by reflecting more sunlight. Maybe the sun will get dimmer and pump out less energy. If one or more of these “maybes” were consistent with any currently observable phenomena or data, they might be entitled to some traction. However, as far as I know, they aren’t, so they don’t. After all, if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump on the ground when they hopped. But they don’t, so they do. The reality is that all obfuscating conjecture aside, for the purposes of simply projecting the general trend of the global mean (average) temperature over time, the other influencers of temperature and climate tend to fluxuate within given ranges and so, cancel each other out. And so, for the purposes plotting the long term trend, the other variables essentially remain constant. The only variable that changes is carbon dioxide. So the long term trend continues to be up. That’s what we are seeing and it’s consistent with increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but, after holding relatively stable of for about a decade, the average global temperature has begun to rise again over the past six months. Why it stabilized for approximately a decade is anyone’s guess. However, given the nature the climate system, it was a pretty safe bet that the temperature was not going to remain stable forever. The only question was whether the graph would begin to trend up or down. And, while we all might have hoped that the graph would have begun to trend down, I wouldn’t have bet on it for the reasons stated above. And sure enough, it has begun trending upward again. Once again, this trend is consistent with carbon dioxide load being a principal influencer of global temperature and inconsistent with the theory that other influencers can be counted on to cancel it out.
Nevertheless, you can be sure that there will be just as many people deriding the notion of global warming tomorrow as there are today and raising the same hypotheticals without any supporting data. Just remember that we went through this same charade a few decades ago with regard to cigarette smoking with all the same sorts of obfuscating nonsense. To which the simple answer was if there was no connection between cigarettes and poor health, how come cigarette smokers got lung cancer and emphysema and non smokers seldom did. Some things are just common sense. Cigarettes cause cancer and carbon dioxide causes global warming. Depend on it.