Debunking Academy: Taking on Pseudoscience and Anti-Science
This is a part of a series on debunking misconceptions about climate science.
Is Global Warming Really So Bad?
Yes, Global Warming is real (sometimes), and so is climate change. If you read the newspapers and magazines, or listen to the nightly news, you know with a certainty that Global Warming is destroying the world. Websites like http://skepticalscience.com proclaim to be truly “skeptical” and correcting wayward “climate change deniers.” But do they really? Is Global Warming really so bad?
What claims are made about Global Warming?
On the surface, the Skeptical Science website appears to be evenhanded about the pros and cons of Global Warming. They mention plenty of good things about Global Warming, but mention far more detriments. Let’s take them on, one by one. The following “Negative” claims are part of the intermediate discussion on the Skeptical Science website (retrieved 2016:0611). These are claimed to be the bad effects of Global Warming.
Agricultural Claims of Global Warming
The other website does mention papers on improved agriculture in some high latitude regions, increased growing season in Greenland, and increased productivity of sour orange trees. But that’s it?
The following list of negative points doesn’t really stack up against the overwhelming evidence that life thrives in warmth and dies in the cold. What overwhelming evidence? Ask yourself, for instance, which location has the greatest biodiversity—Svalbard or Java? This is the startling level of simplicity that is being overlooked by the “climate change” alarmists. They’re picking at petty details and missing the huge swath of evidence right before their very eyes. They’re complaining about tiny problems when far larger problems threaten us from Global Cooling.
CLAIM: Decreasing human water supplies, increased fire frequency, ecosystem change and expanded deserts.
It’s ironic that the warming alarmists claim Global Warming causes droughts and floods. The proof of this is non-existent. They’re cherry picking data, something both sides have been caught doing. If Global Warming decreases human water supplies with droughts, then it also (by their own flimsy arguments) increases human water supplies where it floods. Contrary to their weak terminology, the real definition of “climate change” includes all 4.5 billion years of climate change. Things change. And sometimes change creates problems. Get over it. Handle the problems as they come.
On the topic of deserts, these will likely always exist because of the Hadley cells at work in the atmosphere. But comparing Global Warming with Global Cooling, the cooler climates produce far more deserts. Why? Because cooler oceans offer less evaporation, and that means less water for rain. During the far warmer Holocene Optimum (~7000–4000 BC), the Sahara was green, and today’s wimpy Lake Chad was then a robust inland sea challenging the size of the Caspian.
CLAIM: Decline in rice yields due to warmer nighttime minimum temperatures.
Picky, picky, picky. When the next glacial period strikes planet Earth (and we’re already 500 to 6,000 years overdue), yields will plummet without the rain provided by all that warming and evaporation from the oceans. Basing their definition of “bad” on things like this is like declaring your life over because of one facial blemish. Get over it. Find some way to handle the tiny problem.
CLAIM: Increase of Western United States wildfire activity, associated with higher temperatures and earlier spring snowmelt.
Again, change happens. And not all fires are bad. Nature thrives with challenges like wildfires that clear the old and make way for the new. Controlling this is a management problem. Controlled burns are done all the time to help keep people and property safe.
CLAIM: Encroachment of shrubs into grasslands, rendering rangeland unsuitable for domestic livestock grazing.
What they’re talking about here is the positive effect of Global Warming resulting in greater rainfall overall. What they’re missing here is that greater rainfall will result in encroachment of grasslands into former desert regions. This is accomplished by both greater Global Warming and the resultant rainfall, and greater CO2 concentrations greening the Earth.
CLAIM: Decreased water supply in the Colorado River Basin.
This is anecdotal, like all of their drought-flood claims. When a researcher claims that their one effect (Global Warming) will produce two opposing outcomes (flooding and droughts), that’s anti-science.
CLAIM: Decreasing water supply to the Murray-Darling Basin.
Health Claims of Global Warming
The Skeptical Science website tosses an easy bone onto the tiny “Positive” effects pile for Global Warming. They admit that “winter deaths will decline as temperatures warm.” That was easy. But do they realize that humans have declared with a loud voice their preference for warmth? Where do people like to vacation—Greenland or Florida? Where do people like to live. A study I conducted recently shows the population density by latitude 10° band. Notice the clear preference for warmer climate. The horizontal scale measures out population density up to 154 people/sq.km. Geography (mountains, deserts, shapes of continents) also plays a part, but this is not as significant as the part played by warmth. The large Indonesian island of Java, for instance, has a population density of about 1,130 people per square kilometer, close to the equator.
CLAIM: Increased deaths to heatwaves —5.74% increase to heatwaves compared to 1.59% to cold snaps.
This is more a matter of economics and individual lack of preparation. If corporations had not been so greedy, and the globalists not so psychopathic, people might better be able to afford air-conditioning. I remember visiting England in 1968 when several people dropped dead from the scorching 90 °F (32.2 °C) temperatures. From where I’ve lived, that’s only moderately warm. What Al Gore got right, and Cook (Skeptical Science website) seems to get wrong, concerns the destination of all that warming. Most of it goes to the poles. Almost none of it goes to the equator.
CLAIM: Increased heat stress in humans and other mammals.
They’re complaining about 3 °C of heat stress over a century? Get real, people! We each experience far more than this every day. In fact, when I lived in Phoenix, Arizona, I experienced a whopping 14.5 °C temperature change on a fairly regular basis. Heck, just getting in my car in a Phoenix parking lot on a hot, summer day would give me a brisk change of something like 30+ °C. Even in the mild coastal climate of Los Angeles, daily temperature swings can be as much as 10.7 °C. Again, Cook and the other alarmists are blowing the effects of change all out of proportion with reality. It’s like stubbing your toe and calling for an undertaker.
CLAIM: Spread in mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Fever.
One of the IPCC’s own lead authors on health effects of Global Warming quit that dubious, political body in protest when they began claiming things like this. In fact, Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute, Paris, and formerly of the IPCC, reminded the world that one of the greatest epidemics from mosquitoes took place a century ago in coldest northern Russia!
CLAIM: Increase in occurrence of allergic symptoms due to rise in allergenic pollen.
I feel for the sufferers of allergies, but part of the problem are the toxins in vaccines, medicines, and food manufactured in the West that make the human bodies of westerners more allergic to just about everything. One way to cure all allergies is to torch the planet and kill all life on it. Then there would be no allergies at all. This is the level of nonsense being portrayed by the alarmists. They’re complaining because there is more life (pollen producing plants)! Let that startling fact sink in. They don’t like life. Why else would they be promoting Global Cooling and a fear of “warmth” in an ongoing Ice Age interglacial? A far better way to handle most allergies is to get rid of the toxins being used on humans.
Arctic Melt Claims from Global Warming
Like so much of the alarmist position, the claims made on Arctic melt are peppered with half-truths and lies.
CLAIM: Loss of 2/3 of the world’s polar bear population within 50 years.
The United Nations said we would have millions of climate refugees by 2010. That didn’t happen. Contrary to popular myth, life thrives in warmth and polar bears are part of that life. Warmth means more food, and more access to food. During the far warmer Eemian interglacial about 110,000 years ago, polar bears did just fine. Temperatures then were estimated to have been 5 °C warmer than today. And Cook and his buddies at the UN are freaking out over a 3 °C increase. If polar bears could take 5 °C 1,100 centuries ago, then they should be able to handle half that temperature by 2065.
CLAIM: Less compacted ice, hazardous floes and more mobile icebergs posing increased risk to shipping.
I will grant them this one temporary hazard. But melt all of the ice and icebergs will cease to exist. Continue with their policy of Global Cooling, and icebergs could be bumping up against the Azores and Bermuda! Then shipping might grind to a halt in the Atlantic and Northern Pacific.
CLAIM: Drying of arctic ponds with subsequent damage to ecosystem.
These guys act as though climate never changed before the advent of modern technology. Climate has never stopped changing. And every change will create problems for someone, somewhere. You can’t have change and keep things the same. That should be obvious. Climate change can never be stopped as certainly as we cannot stop the galaxy from spinning. The challenge we face is to adapt to the changes that we cannot affect, and to change things where we have the wherewithal to do so. But blaming Global Warming on CO2 is like kicking the dog for your flat tire.
CLAIM: Warming causes methane to escape from Arctic regions, contributing additional greenhouse warming.
While it’s true that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas, all other things being equal, they are definitely NOT equal. The amounts of methane in the atmosphere are vanishingly small. And for a good reason: methane is flammable. Any flame will consume it.
But like CO2, methane will not cause significantly more global warming. The graph of the last few thousand years of temperature show warming periods every thousand years, like clockwork. To expect there not to have been a Modern Warm Period would have been somewhat foolish, based on the record. To blame the current warming period on humans, and not to blame us for the other three most recent warm periods is also somewhat foolish.
And because of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), we’ve had warming and cooling cycles about 60 years from peak to peak, embedded in the 1000-year warming cycle. Thus, the Global Warming from 1970–2000 was not based on CO2, but on some other, natural force, yet to be discovered by scientists.
Environment Claims from Global Warming
Again, more lies and half-truths.
CLAIM: Rainforests releasing CO2 as regions become drier.
What about the areas that are becoming wetter? Remember, warming alarmists have claimed also that Global Warming causes extra flooding.
CLAIM: Extinction of the European land leech.
CLAIM: Decrease in Adélie penguin numbers.
CLAIM: Disruption to New Zealand aquatic species such as salmonids, stream invertebrates, fishes.
CLAIM: Oxygen poor ocean zones are growing.
CLAIM: Increased mortality rates of healthy trees in Western U.S. forest.
CLAIM: Increased risk of coral extinction from bleaching and disease driven by warming waters.
CLAIM: Decline in lizard populations.
CLAIM: Decline in global phytoplankton.
The preceding several claims are all assuming that Global Warming is the only game in town. What about real human pollution, like that from industrial chemicals, industrial dumping, and the detrimental effects of petrochemical herbicides and pesticides? When one scientist found that a corporation’s pride and joy was destroying frog populations, he was repeatedly attacked by a merciless campaign to slander his good name. When someone else took Syngenta to court over an unrelated case, documents were found to have Dr. Tyrone Hayes’s initials peppered throughout with plans to ruin him in every way possible. Corporations would like you to think they have nothing to do with species dying, but the only reason they care is that they don’t want to get caught.
CLAIM: Decline in global net primary production—the amount of carbon absorbed by plants.
This one claim is almost too funny to comment on. Both CO2 and warming promote life. Worrying about how much CO2 plants absorb is like worrying about how much oxygen we breathe.
CLAIM: Increased pine tree mortality due to outbreaks of pine beetles.
Blaming this on Global Warming is another case of not looking hard enough for the real cause. And even if warming did allow one species to thrive at the expense of another, that’s life! Again, these guys are complaining about change in general. When the Holocene ends and the next glacial period of the current Ice Age begins, they’re going to be slapped silly with a big change. All of their petty complaints about beetles thriving (as if they’re less valuable than polar bears) will seem as shallow as they really are.
CLAIM: More severe and extensive vegetation die-off due to warmer droughts.
Again, they’re complaining about droughts when warming alarmists also claim that Global Warming causes more rain (floods). Rain is good. An occasional flood is natural and normal. And there is no evidence that either droughts or floods are on the increase globally.
Ocean Acidification Claims from Global Warming
The fact that they throw this claim in their article on Global Warming shows how truly desperate they are. The “acidification” is a misnomer, first of all. The entire ocean is alkaline, not acidic. It cannot become “more acidic” if it’s not acidic to begin with. And added CO2 is making the ocean less alkaline—not even close to being acidic, yet. This should be on the page concerning carbon dioxide—not Global Warming. Ironically, Global Warming will decrease the dissolved carbon dioxide in the oceans, forcing it into the atmosphere. Global Warming will move an already alkaline ocean further from an acid pH, or at least slow down any change in pH from extra carbon dioxide created by nature and humans.
CLAIM: Substantial negative impacts to marine ecosystems.
CLAIM: Inhibiting plankton development, disruption of carbon cycle.
CLAIM: Increased mortalities of sea urchins.
CLAIM: Threat to fish populations.
All of these claims pertain to CO2 increases; not to Global Warming. In fact, warming, by itself, will drive more CO2 out of the oceans, increasing alkalinity. Try putting an opened soft drink out in the hot sun. See how fast it loses its fizz compared to one which is kept in the refrigerator’s coldest section. This is an easy experiment anyone can do with pH test strips.
Glacier Melt Claims from Global Warming
This is the only real problem from Global Warming, combined with the last category, “Sea Level Rise.” Sad that they make such a big deal about warmth and lie so much about its many effects, when this is the only bad effect of significance. The problem is that the “climate change” alarmists are focused on small problems and completely miss the really big problems. They talk here about problems that affect 60 million people’s water supply and coastal real estate, when the flip side (Global Cooling) threatens 7 Billion people and all of civilization.
CLAIM: Severe consequences for at least 60 million people dependent on ice melt for water supply.
When we have warmer oceans from Global Warming, there will be more evaporation from the oceans and thus more rain, so some (or all) of those people will no longer be dependent upon glacial melt for their water supply. Simple! Global Warming turns out to be their solution; not a problem.
CLAIM: Contribution to rising sea levels.
Yes! They have this one solidly in their corner. But when you hold in the balance the lives of 7 Billion people on one side, and coastal real estate on the other, I would vote to keep the 7 Billion alive and say “to heck” with the coastal real estate. But hey, I value life far more than real estate.
Economic Claims from Global Warming
I read recently that Earth is worth about $5 Quadrillion. That’s $5,000 Trillion. With Global Cooling, we could lose about $4,999 Trillion or more! In other words, an end to the Holocene could spell the end of civilization as we know it, and the deaths of billions, especially if people are too busy worrying about Global Warming and not preparing for the inevitable cooling. Global Warming, on the other hand, might cost us several hundred trillion dollars, but far from the full $5 Quadrillion.
CLAIM: Economic damage to poorer, low latitude countries.
CLAIM: Billions of dollars of damage to public infrastructure.
CLAIM: Reduced water supply in New Mexico.
CLAIM: Increased risk of conflict including increased risk of civil war in Africa.
CLAIM: Drop in primary productivity due to unprecedented warming at Lake Tanganyika.
All of these, if they happen, could be far worse with Global Cooling added to ignoring the fact that the Holocene is 500 to 6,000 years overdue to end (Ref: W.S. Broecker, 1998). Also, the cooling of the last 3,000 years suggests that the Holocene may already have started the switch from interglacial mode to glacial period of our current Ice Age. And glacial periods are brutal to life and civilization.
Sea Level Rise Claims from Global Warming
This really should be under the “Glacial Melt” heading, above. Yes, I concede that Global Warming will cause sea levels to rise. Sea levels have already risen more than 400 feet since the depths of the last Ice Age glacial period. Global Warming made civilization possible, but inundated all of the primitive coastlines. Pining for the “good old days” of lower sea levels and mile-thick ice sheets covering half of North America would be counterproductive.
CLAIM: Hundreds of millions displaced within this century.
This sounds about right, if we are brave and place higher value on lives than coastal real estate. Most people would much rather move than die in an Ice Age glacial period from the cold or lack of rain. But too many of them have been distracted from this stark reality.
CLAIM: Coastal erosion in Nigeria.
Yes, and coastal erosion of many other nations, too. That’s part of the nature of natural climate change.
Adapting to Global Warming and Sea Level Rise
The smartest thing to do is to prepare for the coming cold, or to find some way to end the current Ice Age. If too many people are in denial of the current ice at the poles of the planet, then they will blithely step off the cliff of oblivion and find their butts hanging out in the snow when the Biggest Freeze bites civilization. We’re already hundreds of years overdue for the Holocene’s end, but it could hold out for a few thousand years more. No one knows for sure.
One “climate change” alarmist and possible “astroturf” (fake grass roots) agent, working on Wikipedia, stated that the Holocene wasn’t due to end for another 50,000 years. Here’s what that looks like on a graph of Vostok Antarctica temperatures projected more than 50,000 years into the future. The small red box near the zero line indicates the Holocene up to the present. Anyone can easily see that such a claim is extraordinary for the duration of an interglacial. There is no precedent for it. This alone doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but such an extension for the current interglacial looks highly unlikely. The “agent” claimed that this duration was based on Milankovitch cycles. While Milankovitch plays a part in climate, it is not the only factor.
How much would it cost to lose all of Canada, a third of the United States, a third of Europe, and a significant portion of Russia from glacial cold? How much would it cost to lose 90% of our existing farmland from the sudden lack of rain when the oceans start to cool? How much infrastructure would be lost from so much cold and new deserts? How many people would die from the cold, from starvation, from lack of fresh water, and from the inevitable food wars?
With Global Warming, we really have only one moving target: sea levels. In our favor, we have a calming of the weather (fewer hurricanes and tornadoes), and a richer harvest of rain helping to blossom more of the world.
If we could pool our resources for the benefit of humanity, instead of lining the pockets of politicians like Al Gore, then we might be able to figure out a way to end the current Ice Age, before the next glacial period begins. The biggest barrier is the selfishness of individual people attached to their New York penthouses and Florida beach mansions. Even Al Gore has a sea coast mansion in Southern California (what is he not telling us?).
How much would it cost to build a 200-foot wall off the coast of San Francisco Bay, protecting all of the Bay area from sea level rise? How much would it cost to build a 3,000 kilometer sea wall from Norway, around Great Britain, Ireland, France and Spain? How much would it cost to include locks to elevate ships to and from the old Mediterranean to the new Atlantic?
If we were a compassionate humanity, we would help not only the rich nations, but also the poorer nations with either the moves or the dike building. This way, we may save much of the land from flooding, plus gain the tundra of Canada and Northern Russia, plus the glacial lands of Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.
Because of warmer oceans, we would have far more water vapor, more clouds, and more rain. More of Earth could become a garden. Will there be some areas that lose out? I would be surprised if there weren’t. But balancing Frozen Climate against Garden Earth, I would take the garden any day.
Learning New Things—Update 2017:0930
I love a lively discussion on science, even in places like Facebook. I value the learning experience and remain open to learn from all sources, especially those with whom I disagree on some issues.
Recently, I had a nice conversation with Andrew Hodgkinson of the UK. He pointed out that one missing topic in this article involved climate transitions. While this article was originally and only about examining the claims made by another website, I immediately saw the value in his observation. In order to understand the larger issues at stake, we need to be prepared to look at these issues from every conceivable viewpoint.
So, let’s take a look at climate transitions. We’ve always had them. Warming transitions from the colder periods of our current Ice Age have been a blessing, for the most part. One of Andrew’s concerns was about the rate of transition and also the extent of change.
I pointed out that individual species are not harmed by the amount of warming. After all, we’re talking about only 3°C of warming over the next century. Every species experiences much more than this amount of warming every day. Animals are used to this. So are plants. In fact, in mild Los Angeles climate, there is about an 11°C daily change in temperature. To suggest that animals can take a 12-hour change of 11°C without difficulty, but will die en masse from a 3°C change over the next century is interesting, to say the least.
Okay, let’s unpack the subject a bit and take a closer look at it. If an animal or plant can thrive with an 11° daily change, they will not suffer from temperature stress of a 3°C change over the next hundred years. The rate of warming is nothing, especially compared to the rate of warming which made civilization suddenly possible 11,600 years ago, at the end of the Younger Dryas, and beginning of the Holocene interglacial. That rate was closer to 100°C per century—more than 33 times the UN’s scare story. But there are other considerations.
While 3°C of warming will not constitute a problem from temperature stress, it will give us changes in weather patterns and seasonal timing. These could cause problems. Nature will find a way to handle those problems. It always does. When brown bears migrated into the northern regions and found a handy food source by killing seals, they eventually evolved a white coloration so they could increase their success as predators. And when the Eemian interglacial reached temperatures +5°C warmer than today, the polar bears survived just fine without all that sea ice.
Most people still seem to remain clueless that we currently live in an Ice Age. They don’t realize the far greater dangers of global cooling. Their sense of perspective of temperature margins has been distorted by what amounts to propaganda. The planet has warmed perhaps a little more than +1°C since the end of the Little Ice Age (about 1850). But as the Earth was warming up from that deep cooling, global temperatures were estimated to have crashed by 1°C in a matter of weeks because of a volcanic eruption. This was the 1816 “year without a summer.” Thousands died and thousands more became climate refugees because of the cold and the lack of sufficient rain for crops. And that’s a mere 2°C cooler than today. There have been long periods lasting millions of years where temperatures were globally as much as +10°C warmer than today, and life thrived. And during the glacial periods of our current Ice Age, life struggled. Human population could not get above an estimated 100,000 simply because rain was so scarce. Cold does that. This is one reason why the polar regions are considered to be the largest and second largest deserts in the world.
Change will always happen. Implementing government programs to cool the planet in an Ice Age just “like volcanoes do” is madness. And that’s just what former CIA Director John Brennan was suggesting at a CFR meeting at the 200th anniversary of that year without a summer.
Note: This article was originally published 2016:0612 on GlobalWarmth.org.