Global Warming 101: Science

by William Yeatman on February 3, 2009

in Global Warming 101

A “planetary emergency—a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth”—that is how former Vice President Al Gore describes global warming. Most environmental groups preach the same message. So do many journalists. So do some scientists.

In fact, at the 2008 annual meeting of Nobel Prize winners in Lindau, Germany, half the laureates on the climate change panel disputed the so-called consensus on global warming.

greenhouseeffectpreview

The Greenhouse Effect

You have probably heard the dire warnings many times. Carbon dioxide (CO2) from mankind’s use of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas is building up in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas—it traps heat that would otherwise escape into outer space. Al Gore warns that global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions could increase sea levels by 20 feet, spin up deadly hurricanes. It could even plunge Europe into an ice age.

Science does not support these and other scary predictions, which Gore and his allies repeatedly tout as a “scientific consensus.” Global warming is real and carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to it, but it is not a crisis. Global warming in the 21 st century is likely to be modest, and the net impacts may well be beneficial in some places. Even in the worst case, humanity will be much better off in 2100 than it is today.

The following is a summary of key points:

  • Average Annual Heat-Related Mortality: People will not drop like flies from heat waves in a warming world. Heat-related mortality will continue to decline as the world warms.

    averageannualheatrelatedmorpreview

    Average Annual Heat-Related Mortality

  • Far more people die each year from excess cold than from excess heat.
  • Global warming will not make air pollution worse.
  • Global warming will not lead to malaria epidemics in Northern Hemisphere countries.
  • Contrary to Gore, no “strong, new scientific consensus is emerging” that global warming is making hurricanes stronger.
  • Global Death & Death Rates Due to Extreme Events, 1900-2004: Since the 1920s, death rates related to extreme weather declined by more than 98 percent globally. The impression conveyed by An Inconvenient Truth—that global warming is making the world a more dangerous place—is false.

    globaldeathanddeathratespreview

    Global Death & Death Rates Due to Extreme Events, 1900-2004

  • Gore’s warning that global warming could shut down the Atlantic branch of the oceanic thermohaline circulation (THC) and plunge Europe into an ice age is science fiction.
  • Gore’s warning that sea levels could rise by 20 feet is science fiction. Sea level rise in the 21 st century is likely to be measured in inches, not in feet.
  • The world warmed at a rate of 0.17°C per decade since 1978, according to the temperature record compiled by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since most climate models predict that warming will occur at a constant—that is, non-accelerating—rate, it is reasonable to expect that global warming in the 21 st century will be close to the low end of the IPCC’s forecast range, of 1.4°C to 5.8°C.
  • Temperature Measuring Station on Aspault Parking Lot: The actual warming rate may be only half the 0.17°C per decade rate implied in the IPCC temperature record, because the IPCC has not adequately filtered out the warming biases from local factors like urbanization and improper management of monitoring equipment.

    asphaulttemperaturestationpreview

    Temperature Measuring Station on Aspault Parking Lot

  • A warming near the low end of the IPCC range would produce both benefits—longer growing seasons, more rainfall, fewer cold deaths—and harms—more heat waves, more drought, some acceleration of sea level rise—but nothing resembling catastrophe.
  • Even in the IPCC high-end warming forecasts, human welfare would improve dramatically over the next 100 years. In the IPCC fossil-fuel-intensive development scenario, per capita GDP in developing countries increases from $875 per year in 1990 to $43,000 per year in 2100—even after taking into account an additional 110 years of global warming. Even in the IPCC worst-case scenario, global warming is not the civilization-ending catastrophe Al Gore purports it to be.
anonymous February 11, 2009 at 10:32 am

What a strange place to put a Temperature Measuring Station.

Nikki February 17, 2009 at 8:21 am

I think global warming is very bad and everyone should know that. People should learn to recycle instead of litter and to ride their bikes to school, if possible.

Megan February 24, 2009 at 2:48 pm

I have to do a report on Global Warming im in middle school and my teacher wants it on paper i think we should use usb's to save the trees because when we use paper were using the air and the animals home and may i ask what have the animals done to us? This world seriously need's to stop and think before you litter it's like rembering to turn the stove off when your done cooking. :( Stop global warming One person is all it takes to help

Lexi, 13 February 26, 2009 at 10:13 am

ok. even if global warming doesn't exist, which i think it does, why not cut down on toxic emissions? what is so bad about getting rid of polution and be more consciencious about how we effect the earth's ecosystem? I think we all need to think about that because if now there isn't really global warming it could happen in the future and either way you look at it what we are doing now to our planet is wrong.

keirin,13 February 27, 2009 at 11:09 am

I'm working on school brochure on global warming and i think that people should not cut down the trees, becasue don't the trees gives us oxgens… my neighboor is cutting too much trees i hate it.

keirin,13 February 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

i agree with nikki people should recycle at the their schools.

David February 28, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Do any of you know what percent of our atmosphere is comprised of carbon dioxide? Look it up, it will surprise you. Does the increase of environmental carbon dioxide precede or follow global temperature increases? Look it up, it will surprise you.

Global warming is happening. It is not caused by carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide fluctuates with global temperature change because our oceans hold greater quantities of suspended carbon dioxide when they are cooler (just like a cold can of soda goes flat at a slower pace than a hot can of soda). When the oceans heat up, they release carbon dioxide in greater quantities. When they cool they absorb more.

We all know it's a hoax deep down, but there are so many misconceptions. I bet the same people that would say we didn't really go to the moon are saying that the debate on man-made global warming is over. There is no such thing as scientific concensus, especially when the United Nations is involved.

Think people!

David February 28, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Keiren, no offense but if my child comes home from school with global warming propaganda I think I will just have to puke. You are not a scientist. I can visit the internet myself and read the same swill as you and I don't need you to filter the information for me or my family because we were also gifted with large brains.

Megan, my father and my brother are employed in the timber industry. Please feel free to use paper because it puts food on their tables and will hopefully send my darling nephew and niece to college one day. Trees are renewable resources and those who sell timber to the paper company plant baby trees immediately afterward. If people stop using paper, they will plant something else that will result in less habitat for wildlife. Banning production of paper nationwide would be a terrible thing for wildlife for this reason, but in both cases the impact on global warming is insignificant because something else will be planted on these large properties.

Deforestation is a problem to be sure, but commercial and residential development is the culprit, along with farming, not the paper industry. There is no way to stop urban sprawl because our elected officials will not say no to the next Wal-mart, Lowes, strip mall, etc. and people need somewhere to live.

ariel garcia March 3, 2009 at 1:21 am

global warming is a sign of the dead of our planet….we should be aware…we need to plan for this big problem that we made….if there are any other small or big organization to make some plan for this., to pursue to the highest leader….for all us to know not only the people who used internet…please do something for this so the coming generation will not be worry for what we made….thanks

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