Patterns in climate change can prove fascinating. I’m beginning to see why climate scientists love their work.
Part of the joy of reviewing data over and over again is the growing sense of discovering what has already been discovered. I had long understood that there are patterns in climate change, but sometimes the implications of knowledge we’ve long had don’t readily make themselves apparent.
Take for instance, the following graph of climate data from NOAA.
Notice how the graph trends downward from 1880 to 1910, then climbs upward from 1910 to 1940, then down slightly from 1940 to 1970, upward from 1970 to 2000 and leveling off after 2000. Each one of these ranges is approximately 30 years. The total up and down cycle is thus 60 years. The so-called “pause” that NOAA scientists were caught trying to erase by fudging data can clearly be seen as a natural extension of this 60-year cycle. The pattern in climate change, here, is clear to see.
Now, notice the angle of global warming from 1910 to 1940 compared to the angle from 1970 to 2000. They’re almost the same. The more recent seems a little steeper. Also the downward trend from 1940 to 1970 seems a bit shallower than the trend from 1880 to 1910. The following graph may give us part of the reason why this has happened.
This shows a clear pattern of warm periods spaced about once every thousand years. This is based on ice proxies found at GISP2 in Greenland, but similar patterns have been found using other proxies elsewhere. And contrary to what some may claim, these warm periods were global in nature with data coming from both hemispheres. In the period from 1970 to 2000, we were in the upward trends of both the 60-year cycle and the 1000-year cycle. So, it should not have been surprising that we would have global warming during this period. When patterns in climate change tend to repeat like this, saying that man did one, but not the others seems a little suspicious.
Policy Based on the Patterns in Climate Change
I’m not a climate scientist, but I’ve studied science all my life. I have a degree, summa cum laude in the science of computer information technology. But even if I were a climate expert, you should not take my word for any of this. Each of us is an intelligent human being with an ability to investigate. Some are more gifted than others, but that is no excuse not to look, especially when humanity’s future is at stake.
I’ve heard many times in the last few years that we should do something to “prevent disaster.” And that it won’t hurt to do something on this, but it could hurt a lot if we don’t do anything. This is what is called the precautionary principle—doing something just in case. This sounds reasonable, but jumping off a cliff to avoid an oncoming truck is not nearly as good as climbing the hill on the other side of the road. Looking at the patterns of climate change and making the proper decision rests on proper understanding of those patterns. Direction has everything to do with outcomes. Cooling the planet in the midst of an ongoing Ice Age is not nearly as smart as warming the planet to end the Ice Age and to thaw out the world. This is because life thrives on warmth and dies in the cold.
We are far closer to dangerous cold than we are to dangerous warmth. A global cooling of –2 °C would give us another Little Ice Age. A global warming of +16 °C would take us to a balmy condition like the sharp spike in the Eocene called PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum). This 170,000-year spike in climate change history did come with its problems, but most of life on Earth did just fine. From all we can tell, we had massive global warmth, higher CO2 levels and no dangerous, runaway warming that cooked the planet. The Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction was another 4 °C warmer than PETM, but even that heat may not have been responsible for the deaths experienced then. It’s quite possible that the mass extinctions at the beginning of the Triassic Period were caused by poisoning, volcanic eruptions and meteor impacts. We don’t have enough information yet to know for certain. So, the bottom line is that we don’t yet know at what level warmth would become a danger.
Patterns in Climate Change that Show Global Warming is Good
First, let’s get the cooling side out of the way. Here’s what we can expect from a return to glacial conditions when the Holocene ends (and it’s already hundreds of years overdue):
- Global cooling will cover vast areas of North America and Europe with glacial ice, destroying far more real estate than rising sea levels ever could.
- Far less evaporation and thus far less rain.
- Larger deserts and more of them.
- More dust in the atmosphere.
- Far fewer plants, more death and less food.
Warming gives us the following beneficial results:
- More distance from dangerous glacial periods which kills life.
- More evaporation and more beneficial rain.
- Fewer deserts. In fact, one recent paper discovered that at a certain level of increased warmth and CO2, the Hadley Circulation which determines the domain of most deserts shrinks.
- Far less dust in the atmosphere for healthier breathing.
- More plants and more life. More food.
Investors Business Daily. (October 28, 2015). “Did Federal Agency Commit Climate Fraud? Sure Looks Like It.” Retrieved November 23, 2015 from http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/102815-777967-congress-launches-investigation-into-agencys-data-manipulation.htm
Hasegawa, H., Tada, R., et al. (August 23, 2012). “Drastic shrinking of the Hadley circulation during the mid-Cretaceous Supergreenhouse.”
This article was originally published 2015:1123 on RodMartinJr.com.