Guest post by John A. Brock is a Geological Engineer
I was attracted to the recent Tulsa World Readers Forum article, “Geoengineering: Is it the Solution?” by Law Professor Rex Zedalis because I’ve been practicing Geoengineering for 56 years. The article recapped Geoengineering ideas of how to reduce energy from the sun (and thereby reduce global warming) by various schemes of shielding the earth by using mirrors or clouds of small particles in outer space, etc. His intuitive conclusion was correct. DON’T DO IT! Professor Zedalis has lived long enough to suspect an unworkable idea when he sees it. He apparently made his decision based on his experience and his gut feeling about the proposals. It would be wonderful if all laymen would do the same and not be influenced by the current mania. In this case, you can do simple calculations within the capabilities of a high school physics student to understand that the implementation of such schemes would require the entire wealth of the planet even if you are in error by a factor of ten. In addition, the schemes would be temporary since everything we place in orbit eventually returns to earth and most damning, even if it were possible, the unintended consequences could be horrendous.
Is there Global Warming? Yes
The thing that set me off about the article was it started with…..”There is no credible dispute about the fact that the Earth’s mean temperature has been rising over the past decades.” I thought, “here we go again with…humans are responsible because of our industrial activity and carbon dioxide emissions.” His opening statement is unimportant because a few “past decades” is less than a blink of an eye in the scope of climate change.
Anyone who has sat through the first course in Geology knows that our climate has been in constant change for at least one million years and very likely throughout the 5 billion year history of the earth. During the last 200,000 years alone there have been four ice ages. This would imply that the ice age cycle is about 50,000 years. The beginning of the current global warming era started at the apex of the last ice age, some 13,000 years ago, which leads us to believe we are a little more that halfway through the Earth’s current warming cycle (of 25,000 years). We’re not sure when the cycle will end. It could be tomorrow and it could be 12,000 years from now. 13,000 years ago, at the maximum extent of the ice in this ice age, there were some 2,000 feet of ice in northern Kansas. The ice has been mostly retreating ever since and sea levels have risen about 300 feet. Sea levels may continue to rise, but cannot rise much more because most of the ice has already melted. As recently as 5,000 years ago rising sea levels in the Aegean Sea poured over the Bosporus near Istanbul into a much lower fresh water lake and created the Black Sea. The current warming trend has not continued uninterrupted. There have been cooling cycles within the overall warming cycle. For example, the earth was much warmer 1,000 years ago when the Vikings were colonizing Greenland which that time was really green and much warmer. Those colonies lasted some 500 years before climate cooling known as the Little Ice Age literally killed off the Vikings. Since the end of the Little Ice Age, around 1750, global warming has resumed and the ice has again been retreating. Geoscientists know that the reason for the cooling and warming has to do with cycles in the intensity of the sun. Current research is focused on whether cycles in sun spot activity are responsible for the Earth’s changing temperatures. Sun spot activity has been very low during the last ten years, during which time the earth has been cooling, not warming. Irrespective of the specific reasons for the warming cycle, carbon dioxide has very little, if anything, to do with global warming.
Our witch doctors want you to believe that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
The vast majority of carbon dioxide on the planet is contained in the oceans and not in the atmosphere. As the oceans warm (because of energy from the sun), carbon dioxide is expelled into the atmosphere thus contributing to higher carbon dioxide levels. This is because carbon dioxide is less soluble in water as the temperature rises. Coke holds its fizz better when it’s cold. Al Gore is confusing the effect with the cause. The real relationship is global warming causes increases in carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide doesn’t cause global warming.
Carbon dioxide makes up 3.62% of greenhouse gases. The balance (96.38%) of the greenhouse gasses is nearly all water vapor. Virtually all (96.5%) of the Carbon Dioxide currently generated comes from natural sources (i.e. volcanic activity, sea water warming, etc.) and only 3.5% from human sources (0.42% from automobiles, 0.49% from air and marine travel, 0.88% from power generation and 0.81% from human households).
Now let us do one of those engineer “smell tests” to see if it’s reasonable to assume that we can do anything about global warming. Let’s suppose that we eliminate all the cars in the world. By the way, you go first. And that we can deduct the entire 0.42% of the carbon dioxide generated by automobiles is eliminated from greenhouse gases (for a lot of reasons it is doubtful there would be any reduction). This means that by eliminating all the cars in the world we would have reduced total greenhouse gases by less than 1 part in 200. Do you really think that would significantly change the amount of heat trapped in the greenhouse? It is not reasonable to think so! Also, you should consider that without the greenhouse gasses the sun would burn the Earth and you to a crisp. It’s the greenhouse that prevents that. If we were able to reduce the greenhouse gases we might be doing the opposite of what we want. However, it’s pretty apparent from statements and actions from countries like China and India that, at the most, only Europe and North America would participate in trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The other 5/6th of the population of the earth will not risk destroying their economies in such an effort. And even though Europe seems hell bent on reducing carbon dioxide the policies they have adopted have done very little in achieving the objective they committed to12 years ago. So the question is; are we alone going to impoverish our country to do something that won’t work?
The legend is that the origin of the idea that carbon dioxide causes global warming came when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was trying to justify a nuclear power generation plant. She was told that since carbon dioxide was part of the greenhouse gases etc., etc. that nuclear generation would be better because it didn’t produce carbon dioxide. She said, “If you can prove that, it would be worth a lot of money.” Her Government provided funds to study the issue and, like all government programs, it expanded. Not to be left out other European countries and the United States began studies and also built bureaucracies. Now thousands of jobs are dependent on maintaining the belief that carbon dioxide is dangerous and the people who hold those jobs are very effective advocates.
The United Nations convened a “study group” to discuss the impact of carbon dioxide on global warming. Some 600 “scientists” participated. Many of the participants were from the government bureaucracies mentioned above. The reports that resulted from this and subsequent UN studies claimed near unanimous agreement that carbon dioxide is the basic cause of global warming and that the science is “settled”. Furthermore, it is important that
Some 600 “scientists” participated. Many of the participants were from the government bureaucracies mentioned above. The reports that resulted from this and subsequent UN studies claimed near unanimous agreement that carbon dioxide is the basic cause of global warming and that the science is “settled”. Furthermore, it is important that human caused carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced. These reports are constantly quoted and claim a consensus of all scientists. It has subsequently been revealed the UN reports have not been approved by the 600 scientists. Many of whom have objected and unsuccessfully demanded their names be removed from the reports. An opposition group of scientists started the “Petition Project”(Google it) which states that “…There is no convincing evidence that the human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate………” Currently, 31,478 American scientists of whom 9,029 are PhDs have signed the Petition opposing the UN claim. So much for the “settled” scientific consensus.
Nevertheless, politicians of the current administration and European governments are convinced of human-caused global warming and seem determined to institute laws such as “Cap and Trade” which will radically increase the cost of living and doing business. They do this in the name of saving the climate which they cannot do. These laws will make our industries uncompetitive. They will cause unemployment, depress our economy and impoverish our Nation. The book ”Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” will have a sad new chapter. This carbon dioxide mania is the modern equivalent of witch doctors throwing the beautiful maidens into the volcano to satisfy the gods and prevent eruptions. The problem and frightening thing is – witch doctors are very persuasive.
John A. Brock is a Geological Engineer