The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Global warming and solar cycles

If you are a regular reader of The GeoChristian, you know that I lean towards the validity of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), which is the idea that human activities are causing the Earth to become warmer. Much of the debate–on both sides–is driven by ideology more than science, but I have found the scientific arguments on the AGW side to be stronger.

The AGW proponents say that variations in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, are the primary drivers of climate change at the present time. They acknowledge that the Earth’s climate naturally varies, and that greenhouse gases are not the only factors in climate change, but warn that the present changes in climate are outside of the natural range.

The Earth is an incredibly complex planet, and it is difficult to integrate all of the factors that go into something as complex as weather and climate. The issues involved include greenhouse gases, variations in the intensity of solar radiation; cosmic rays, ground cover, ocean circulation patterns, orbital variations, and others. Despite decades of intense research, it is still not possible to say with certain how much of the Earth’s natural greenhouse warming comes from the various greenhouse gases present, such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. (Don’t forget that the greenhouse effect itself is an extremely good thing; Earth would be about 30°C (50°F) colder without it).

The London Times has an article on the influence of solar activity and cosmic rays on climate: An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change. The article examines recent experimental evidence that indicates that observed fluctuations in climate, both now and in the past, have been the result more of changes in solar output than greenhouse gases.

AGW advocates would say that we cannot wait for a couple more decades of research in order to take action. Overall, I agree, because many of the actions they say we must take are good whether AGW is true or not. Examples include increasing energy efficiency, simplifying our consumptive lifestyles, and developing sustainable, renewable energy alternatives.

Grace and Peace

January 17, 2009 - Posted by | Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Meteorology, Why Earth science matters | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Hi GeoChristian,

    I can appreciate your point of view on this, but I wonder whether you have counted the costs of implementing all of the programs that the political left want implemented to “fix” global warming. Since global warming is a worldwide phenomena, every government has to participate. They must also participate in a coordinated manner, which means some kind of centralized authority or bureaucracy to manage the whole thing. It could be done piecemeal, but it won’t be effective if each government does its own thing.

    We are talking about spending an enormous amount of money and fundamentally altering the world economy. There will be new exhange systems for carbon credits. There will be rafts of new taxes to ensure the right behavior by individual citizens and corporations. There will be reams of new regulations. There will be huge goverment spending sprees on global warming research and implementations of scientists’ ideas on how to fix the problem (if you’re a geologist, it’ll be an incredible boon!). Etc., Etc.

    I’m all for the things you mentioned: “increasing energy efficiency, simplifying our consumptive lifestyles, and developing sustainable, renewable energy alternatives.” But my question is how? If we just ask people and businesses to voluntarily do these things, they will only do it if it makes economic sense for them. The free market will determine what gets done, when it gets done, and by whom.

    But global warming advocates believe that if these things aren’t forced from the top-down, they won’t work to stop global warming. That is what scares me: global warming scientists and politicians trying to change the way we all live our lives.

    In addition, there is not an infinite amount of money in the world. If we spend trillions of dollars on global warming initiatives, we won’t spend as much on cures for cancer or AIDS, providing running water to poverty stricken areas, eradicating hunger, and so on. We have enormous evidence that these things are problems, but relatively little for AGW. We can’t spend money on everything. We have to make choices.

    If we are just talking about piecemeal investments in the things you mentioned, by individuals and corporations, and to a smaller extent, governments, I’m OK. But if we want to transform the world economy, we need far more evidence because the evidence we have is shaky. I’m willing to wait 20 more years to get it right.

    Thanks very much for your post,
    BP

    Like

    Comment by Bill Pratt | January 18, 2009

  2. Bill:

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree that solutions to our current problems will be expensive. One of my points was that we need to be working towards efficiency and sustainability regardless of whether AGW is true. I’d be happy to see everyone just do the right thing without government leadership and intervention. Human nature tells me that this isn’t going to happen.

    If we start working towards solutions now, such as in renewable energy resources, then we will be better prepared for future reductions in the availability of fossil fuels. If we wait until there is a crisis–which is what will happen if we rely solely on the market–then we are more likely to be caught unprepared.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t search for market-based solutions, but that the government has a significant role as well.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | January 18, 2009


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