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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mark Boslough: Climate Change Is Based Only on Fact

Climate Change Is Based Only on Fact

In his recent column “Global Warming Is Just Propaganda,” Lewis Green asserts that there is no global warming. His conclusion is based on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and a few years “reading up on climate change.” 
But despite his professed science background (engineers are required to take some science courses), his column is riddled with factual errors about science. 
I have respect for engineers. Even after earning a Ph.D. in physics and taking graduate-level courses in mechanical engineering, I do not consider myself competent to challenge established engineering facts. Appeals to supposed authority are dangerous. In science, the ultimate authority is the list of facts, so here are a few. 
♦ Fact: Global warming is real. The first decade of the 21st century was the hottest decade since records have been kept. The climatological temperature, the average over both space and time, is continuing to increase. 
♦ Fact: Global warming was successfully predicted by physicists without using computer models. In the 1800s, physicists published papers describing the heat-trapping properties of carbon dioxide and correctly predicted that continued fossil fuel burning would cause the Earth’s temperature to rise. In the 1950s, physicists developing the defense technology for heat-seeking missiles predicted that the planet would warm at the rate of 2 degrees per century; a remarkably accurate forecast. 
♦ Fact: Scientists indeed accept the reality. A recent scholarly study showed that nearly 98 percent of the most-published climate scientists agree that human activities are causing global warming. My own experience as organizer of an annual scientific session on climate change tells me this is true. Out of hundreds of authors who have submitted abstracts and given presentations, not a single one has presented evidence against human-caused global warming despite my efforts to find someone to try. My professional organization, the American Physical Society, issued a statement saying that “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.” Fewer than one-half percent of society members objected. 
♦ Fact: Climate and weather are not the same thing. Climate can be predicted far into the future, even though weather can’t. Physicists understand that air temperature is a measure of the average speed of molecules. We can describe temperature and predict how it will change without being able to predict the speed and position of every single molecule. Likewise, we can predict it without knowing what the weather will be. 
♦ Fact: Global warming is not a left-wing conspiracy. Those who are most concerned with U.S. national security, including the armed forces, are taking global warming seriously. The Russians know that Arctic ice is melting. They are building up regional military forces in what is being called “a new kind of cold war” that we risk losing if we remain in denial. Libertarians are recognizing that the cooling capacity of the atmosphere above us is a property right that should not be infringed without just compensation. Hunters and outdoor sportsmen know that the future of their activities depend on a stable climate that sustains habitat. Farmers and ranchers know that global warming will be increasingly costly. Ski resort owners are worried about the inevitably shorter seasons and losses of revenue. The list goes on. 
Global warming will not only continue, it will accelerate. It is a threat to our national security, our private property rights, our economic prosperity, our recreation and our way of life. 
Factual information is readily available on the Web. One useful website that provides citations to published scientific literature Many professional scientists, including me, are willing to give presentations to civic, cultural and business organizations. We are happy to be challenged by skeptics and are capable of responding with facts, not propaganda. 
Mark Boslough is a physicist who uses computers to understand impacts, nuclear explosions and climate change.


Anonymous said...

“Fact: Global warming is real.” True and is a continuation of the warming which began at the end of the last glaciation.

“Fact: Global warming was successfully predicted by physicists without using computer models.” True, it was also predicted by geologists without computer models. So?

“Fact: Scientists indeed accept the reality… nearly 98 percent of the most-published climate scientists agree that human activities are causing global warming.” True, that number was derived from a questionnaire a few years ago where 3000 scientist responded and 82% agreed (about 2 out of 10 disagreed). There were only 79 climate scientists who responded, and 77 of the 79 agreed. That’s right, the 98% comes from a sample size of only 79.

“Fact: Climate and weather are not the same thing. Climate can be predicted far into the future, even though weather can’t.” True, no disagreement there.

“Fact: Global warming is not a left-wing conspiracy.” True, it’s a left wing issue but a conspiracy not.

“Global warming will not only continue, it will accelerate.” True, the planet has warmed rapidly in the past and so it will again sometime in the future. No disagreement there either.


Mike Mangan said...

Fact: You will never, ever pass any legislation that will lower the Earth's temperature.

Fact: It was warmer during the Minoan, Roman, and Medieval Warm Periods than it is today.

Fact: There has been no appreciable warming for over fifteen years, according to satellite measurements.

Fact: Warmer weather means fewer hurricanes and greater plant growth. Warmer is better for mankind. Warmer is better for biodiversity.

Fact: Greater levels of water vapor in the atmosphere will lead to greater cloud formation which will mitigate any warmth provided by CO2. Climate is governed by negative feedbacks, not positive.

Hi, Tenney, how've you been?

Tenney Naumer said...

Dear Mike,

You're really not entitled to create your own set of facts if they are not in fact facts.

You may be correct that we will never get legislation passed that would help prevent the coming disaster of ever increasing temperatures due to emissions of greenhouse gases. But then, there will be a huge mess of fascism, anarchy, and a general collapse of all we hold dear. I don't know why the extreme right hates our country so much.

Mike, has your Republican brain taken such complete control that you would neglect to notice the stupendous level of aerosols coming from Asia that are dampening temperature increases (for the moment)?

I don't think it could have been so much hotter during the Minoan period because the results of Mediterranean archaeological digs have found the pumice that was shot into the air by the explosion of the volcano on Santorini (btw, I was once a student of this topic, lived in Greece for over two years, and spent most of that time living on Santorini), and which floated away to the east, was found at roughly sea level. And, the various ports of that time are not underwater at various locations around the Med. that have not been submerged due to tilting caused by earthquakes, etc.

Ancient Alexandria is submerged now because the land sank, but it was not submerged back then.

So, it seems unlikely that it was warmer back then.

It is not clear that warmer weather will decrease the number of hurricanes. That was merely something speculated about in a paper.

More CO2 can mean more plant growth, but warmer temperatures in most locations mean a reduction in food crop yields -- this is already occurring in Africa and of course in the Midwest. Higher temperatures in the Midwest come with higher levels of ground-level ozone, which is toxic to plants and reduces yields. Just read a paper not long ago that showed levels in southern Illinois to be around 57 ppbv -- clean air is considered to have only around 26 ppbv.

Also, if the tropics get much hotter, it will be too hot for many species, and that is of course not good for biodiversity.

While increased temperature leads to more water vapor in the atmosphere, there are both positive and negative feedbacks, and you should know that the positive feedbacks outweigh the negative, so more clouds is not helpful for reducing temperature.

So, maybe you need some more sleep and better food so your brain can stop creating non-fact facts and go back to reality.

Take care,