GLOBAL WARMING:

The Reality of the Event

Jonathan R. Foster

January 28, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING: The Fallacy of Gloom and Doom

???Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.??? ??“ Marie Curie
On any given day, the mainstream media depicts human activity as adversarial to the earth??™s environment. The reports that are broadcast over radio, television, and newsprint continually suggest that the standards of living and technological successes of most industrial nations will result in a global holocaust that will soon make the world uninhabitable unless everyone changes their ways. So, instead of being optimistic and hopeful of the many accomplishments and potential, societies are manipulated into feeling guilt and pessimism through this steady diet of fear and dread. Since knowledge is power, the truth about global warming is needed in order for humanity to reach its full potential. The only way to overcome the fear concerning this controversial issue is to see the truth and conduct ourselves accordingly. Contrary to popular opinion, global warming is not a man-made environmental occurrence, therefore public opinion concerning this current climate event must change.
What is global warming The popular definition is the increase of the average temperature of the earth??™s atmosphere which could cause an eventual global climate change. The process through which this occurrence takes place is called the Greenhouse Effect, which is the natural process that enables the earth to maintain atmospheric temperatures conducive to life. How the Greenhouse Effect works is relatively simple. Water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and a few other trace gases found in our atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, form a blanket. As solar energy reaches the earth??™s surface and is reflected back into space, this blanket reflects much of this solar energy back to the surface, thereby retaining the heat necessary to support life (see Figure 2).
Scientists agree that such factors as agriculture, forestation, cattle production, and many others contribute to this greenhouse blanket and thereby impact the world??™s climate. Other sources of climate influence include solar activity, volcanic and geothermal activity, and oceanic currents. The climate change event actively reported today, however, is being overwhelmingly accredited to the industrial revolution that started in Great Britain in the late 1700??™s and later spread throughout Europe and America during the 1800??™s. Sadly, this position is based on uncertain data and scenarios while being stated as certain fact.
Patricia S. Muir (1999), an environmental biology professor at Oregon State University, admits that scientists and academia really do not know whether the earth is experiencing an abnormal increase in average temperatures or just a natural, reoccurring warming cycle that is within a normal, long-term temperature range (p.16). The possible consequences extrapolated from such uncertain data include, but are not limited to, coastal flooding, fresh water availability, increased mortality and disease, and negative impacts on the food supply. Their conclusions are then consistently expressed in equally uncertain terms using such helping verbs as may, should, and could (Greenhouse, 2004 p.3). Considering that this present crisis is defined by such vague and unsure declarations, it becomes important to ask ourselves why Political columnist George Will comments that the answer is obvious: to invoke fear for the sake of furthering personal, financial, and/or political agendas (Will, 2004, p.1).
Simple logic dictates that a crisis means profits to both the mainstream media and academia. The truth is that the greater the crisis provokes the greater the greater the public involvement, which in turn produces the greater the viewer ship or readership. Therefore, media outlets notoriously report only those things they feel the public wants to know (Deming, 2005, p.2). Each crisis or urgent condition justifies further government involvement and intrusion into people??™s lives and more taxpayers??™ research funding made available to scientists and research institutions.
Successful people consistently reveal that goals are always intentionally achieved. Individuals should do those necessary things in the proper order to obtain the necessary objectives. For many groups, the use of fear has been, and continues to be, an effective means of manipulating opinions and beliefs in order to achieve their goals of power and control. If scared enough, people will respond as intended. A sufficiently large group of scared people will produce a consensus through which any actions can be justified. Charles T. Rubin, Associate Professor of Political Science at Duquesne University, and Mark Landy, Professor of Political Science at Boston College (1993), noted in their article in Garbage: The Practical Journal for the Environment, that,
All honest accounts of Greenhouse effect warming acknowledge uncertainties in predicting future climate conditions. Since in this area one cannot speak of unambiguous scientific truth, those who want action must refer to some other standard to bolster their case. The assertion is often therefore made that a ???scientific consensus??™ exists about this or that aspect of global warming. (p.2).
Fear ought never to be a tool used for public influence by either the mainstream media, the halls of academia, or at the various levels of government.
In addition, various groups have developed hypothetical situations, called scenarios, to predict these uncertain global warming results. These scenarios, which are nothing more than theoretical speculations lacking substantial data to prove their accuracy, are instead being used as factual evidence to support the agenda of the environmental-activist agenda. Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns not to receive their scenarios as certifiable forecasts (Rubin, 1993, p. 4).
So, whose fault is it for this current climate change event For many, mankind in general and America in particular are to blame. They point to the Industrial Revolution as the starting line of the earth??™s race toward ecologic apocalypse. Some of the information that serves as the basis of their position does have merit, however. Since the Industrial Revolution of the 1800??™s, the increased manufacture of goods and products has resulted in a substantial improvement in the standards of living in most countries that has brought about the global economy as we know it today. This also explains the confirmed increases of certain industrial byproducts in the form of gas and solid waste emissions, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), from these manufacturing processes as noted by the scientific community (Muir, 1999, p. 5).
Contributions to the atmospheric greenhouse gas quantities, primarily in CO2 and methane, are also attributed to the various methods of energy production and the diverse modes of transportation. Due to its relative inexpensive availability, fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and other petroleum products provide the energy needed to heat and cool homes, allow for relatively inexpensive modes of transportation and produce the materials required to construct and maintain the things necessary for the world??™s various standards of living.

Mutual acknowledgement ends here. According to Monte Hieb, Paleobotanist and chief engineer for the West Virginia Office of Miners Health, Safety, and Training, and co-author Harrison Hieb (2003), their article reveals that most research takes into account the entire greenhouse gas list responsible for the greenhouse effect except one: water vapor. What is interesting is that water vapor is responsible for most of the earth??™s greenhouse effect (Hieb, ???Water???, 2003, p.1). This exception is deceiving when the fact that total human influence is only 0.28% of the greenhouse effect when water vapor is considered. When water vapor is excluded, the percentage jumps to 5.53%. This actually brings the credibility of much of the research into question as it proves that statistical data can be manipulated to say whatever will support the present agenda. The question then becomes whether humanity??™s contribution to the greenhouse effect is considerable or not (Hieb, ???Water???, 2003, p.1). The most obvious conclusion to be drawn is that nature is the primary contributor toward the greenhouse effect. The logical questions to ask at this point concerning nature??™s role are how long and how much
Fluctuations in the global greenhouse effect are neither new nor sudden. Flavia Nunes and Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, conducted research using carbon isotope testing on deep-sea fossils. Their studies revealed that about 55 million years ago, the ocean??™s currents reversed their courses. This event lasted for about 40,000 years, and was likely caused by volcanic activity and changes in the Earth??™s orbit almost 5 million years prior (Mason, 2003, p. 3). Patricia S. Muir (1993) states the following facts in her course text:
??? The warming over the past century began after one of the colder periods of the last 600 years.
??? Large and rapid climate changes occurred during the last glacial (20,000-100,00[sic] years before the present) and during the transition towards the present interglacial (the last 10,000 years??¦). During this time, we know that there were changes in annual mean temperatures of about 5 degrees C??¦, probably linked to changes in ocean circulation. (p.17)
Academic and scientific research both recognize that during the period of 10th to the 14th centuries AD, a climate change took place that brought about a significant period of warming. During this period, called the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), the population of Europe increased by 50% and crop production equally benefited. Infant mortality and death due to diseases decreased dramatically. Even Greenland was colonized by the Vikings of Iceland during this time. This warming episode continued until the 14th to 15th centuries when the Little Ice Age took place (Deming, 2005, p.3). This current warming event appears to be nothing more than a rebound from a period of cooler temperatures, referred to as the Little Ice Age, to those of the MWP (see Figure 3). Such climate behavior would be considered normal if viewed over time. Since scientific research repeatedly confirms that periods of global climate change are cyclic in nature, then variations to the greenhouse effect are no strangers to time or nature.

The greenhouse effect is as old as the earth and so is the earth??™s contribution to the gases that influence it. Scientific research, using ground and space-based equipment, has repeatedly revealed high levels of methane in the atmosphere over tropical and high-density forests, rice paddies, banana and sugar cane fields, as well as over the flood plains of eastern Siberia. These emissions appear to come from both the plants themselves and the decay of the fallen plant material in the surrounding ground (Spotts, 2006, p.2). Additionally, another major contributor of atmospheric methane is the oceans themselves. Frozen deposits are frequently thawed and released into the atmosphere as the ocean??™s currents circulate warm waters through the various regions which contain these methane deposits.
Another major source of greenhouse gases is the earth??™s interior. Volcanic activity production usually consists of over three-quarters water vapor and the rest consisting of the other greenhouse gases, of which CO2 is found in abundance. These gases are released into the atmosphere through the magma or high pressure explosions (Fisher, 1999, p.1). A note of interest is the increasing frequency of volcanic eruptions being reported throughout the world. Names such as the Philippine Island??™s Mt. Pinatubo, Hawaii??™s Mt Kilauea, Alaska??™s Augustine, Japan??™s Mt. Fuji, Oregon??™s Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood are commonplace through media outlets and volcanism research centers worldwide. In fact, these volcanoes are part of a region called The Ring of Fire, the wide area of intense volcanic activity surrounding the Pacific Ocean (see Figure 4). The eruptions of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Pinatubo alone released tens of thousands of metric tons of ash and gases into the atmosphere which produced temporary, yet measurable, changes in the global climate. According to the Smithsonian Institute??™s Global Volcanism Program (2006), there were over 50 eruptions during 2005 alone and about 160 during the previous decade (p.1). Accompanying all of this volcanic activity is the associated volcanically-released greenhouse gases. With such powerful natural forces in action, the notion of human activity determining global climate destiny is both arrogant and foolish.
It is neither arrogant nor foolish, however, to consider whether human activity does contribute to the greenhouse effect or not, regardless of how insignificant the contributions. The facts and statistics prove that human activity does contribute to the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, howbeit as inconsequential as those levels appear. What the experts neglect to communicate to the masses is that the warming trend is not entirely detrimental. History does, in fact, reveal several benefits associated with warming trends that humanity in the 21st century can anticipate.
As mentioned before, a period of dramatic warming called the Medieval Warm Period, also referred to as the Little Climate Optimum (LCO), occurred during the first half of the last 10,000 years. This period occurred prior to the Industrial Revolution of the last 200 years. During the LCO, Europe not only experienced warmer temperatures but greater precipitation associated with it. This allowed the populations to enjoy great benefits in numerous areas, involving health, agriculture, environment, and fresh-water availability (Moore, 1998, p.23-48). A close look at the benefits of the MWP should reveal a fairly accurate glimpse into the future of the current warming period.
The years preceding the LCO were known as the Dark Ages. A period known for its cold temperatures and spread of contagious diseases, the Dark Ages were identified as a period of stagnation or decline of the populations throughout Europe (Moore, 1998, p.48-49). The average life expectancy during this time was 30-40 years. During the LCO, the warmer temperatures dried out many of the breeding areas for mosquitoes, which resulted in dramatic reductions of many infectious diseases. This, no doubt, contributed in the great increases in the European populations as mortality decreased and the average life expectancy increased (Moore, 1998, p.49). Simple math can by used here: the colder the climate, the more activity is conducted indoors. The warmer the temperatures, the more active people are outdoors. It is reasonable to assume that the equivalent benefits to health and life expectancy will also be experienced during the warmer days to come.
Increased food production and improved agriculture will certainly be experienced during the coming warming trend. Since plants use carbon dioxide, their growth and yield will certainly improve during the measured CO2 levels and additional rainfall (Moore, 1998, p.113). Thus far, during 2006 alone, precipitation has been above normal throughout North America with the exception of the desert southwest. This is expected to change as warmer temperatures will cause increased precipitation through greater evaporation rates (Questions, 2005, p.3). Warmer temperatures, increased rainfall, and additional CO2, are but the building blocks for not only an improved agricultural industry, but for forest ecosystems also.
Enhanced forest density and growth have already been noted throughout North America, especially in Canada. British researchers report that forests have grown throughout the United Kingdom and expect that the world??™s forests could grow by as much as 9%. Canadian economists have stated expectations in their timber productions to rise by as much as 20% as CO2 and rainfall continue to rise (Moore, 1998, p.116).
Considering these facts, what should then be the appropriate response For many in the political and environmental-activist circles, the Kyoto Protocol was to be the answer. This was a bad response to seriously misrepresented data that was driven by an agenda bent on deception and manipulation. This truth could not be better exemplified as Stephen Schneider, a leading advocate of the global warming theory, was interviewed for Discover magazine in October 1989, and was quoted as saying, ???We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest??? (Hieb, Global, 2003, p.12). Christine Stewart, Minister of the Environment of Canada from the Calgary Herald, was quoted in the Calgary Herald as stating, ???No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits??¦ Climate Change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world??? (Hieb, Global, 2003, p.14).
Kyoto is not the answer. This treaty was flawed from its very conception. It did not require all nations to respond; as a matter of fact, several third-world nations, such as China, India and Brazil, were not even included in the reductions targets. This, in light of the fact that these countries are expected to produce much more CO2 than the U.S. within the next decade, reveals an attempt to fulfill the redistribution of wealth agenda that is embraced by many of these underdeveloped countries (Questions, 2005, p.2).
The solution is simple: focus less on fear and more on adaptation. The evidence is irrefutable that a climate change is occurring; however, the natural forces that are at work are well beyond mankind??™s control to change or prevent. On the other hand, ignoring the changes in the environment is unjustified also. Confidence can be placed in the good laws America has in place that require and maintain environmental responsibility of its citizens and businesses without damaging its economy in the process. As the temperature gets warmer (assuming that it will beyond what it has done already), the rational recourse is to adapt. After all, this earth has been here long before mankind appeared, and will exist long after it leaves the scene. To believe that anyone is able to destroy something that is greater than they are can be construed as nothing more than an exercise in exaggerated pride and arrogance.
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Figure2. Cycles of the Earth and Atmosphere. (2001). Project Learn at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).
Copyright 2001 by UCAR

Figure 1. The Earth From Space (2006)
From the SustainPack image database.

Figure3. 1000 Year Temperature Cycle (1991). Note: From EarthQuest, vol5, no1. Copyright 1991

Figure 4. Ring of Fire (2003). WorldAtlas.com Note: From Graphic Maps copyright 2003.