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Climate Change 101

(Based on the article Climate Science Fundamentals, as published in the RICO BUGLE, June 2009)

1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere absorbs heat (infrared rays) emitted from earth and reflects it. That is why CO2 is called a "greenhouse gas". Science has known this since May, 1859, when physicist John Tyndall first demonstrated it. (NEW SCIENTIST, May 16, 2009). It is something like the air in a closed automobile heating up during the summer. There it is the window glass, not CO2, reflecting the heat. The glass is transparent to the sun's visible rays, opaque to the infrared. The earth's atmosphere (including its CO2) is likewise transparent to the sun's visible rays; the CO2 in the atmosphere is a blanket to the reflected heat. This is undisputed science. For a physicist's explanation of this, see www.geocities.com/BPL1960/Greenhouse101.html

2. The Swedish scientist Arrhenius measured atmospheric CO2 levels in 1896. He speculated that the industrial age (primarily coal burning then) might cause atmospheric CO2 levels to rise. This, indeed, turned out to be the case. CO2 levels are rising, sharply. This, too, is undisputed science.

3. The rising of CO2 levels is caused by humans burning fossil fuels, primarily coal, oil, and natural gas. Scientist Hans Suess showed this clearly with carbon-14 studies in 1955. This, too, is undisputed science.

4. Our planet's temperature is also rising. There is data showing this from many sources. Among these are ocean, land and atmospheric temperature readings, satellite measurements, insect egg hatch dates, earlier flowering dates for some flowers, melting glaciers, the shrinking of the northern ice cap, etc. While there are legitimate arguments about some of the data used in the above studies, there is a scientific consensus among climate scientists, and most scientific organizations, that the statement "the planet's temperature is rising" is established science. One cannot call it "undisputed" for there are a few people who challenge it. Some of these have scientific credentials. Most do not. Many who deny the science have been found to be getting paychecks from oil and coal company companies and lobbyist groups. While that fact does not make them wrong, of course, it is also true that their writings seldom appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

5. Earth temperature computer models based on science and historical records indicate that this process cannot continue indefinitely; that "bad things" will happen if we humans donít stop emitting tons of excess CO2 into the air. There are heated discussions on how bad things will get, and how fast it will happen. Even the mildest of these predictions are not pretty, although, in most of them, the human race is expected to survive. Again, established science.

6. How is a person to sort out the claims and counter-claims? The answer to that is not easy. Last year I accepted the Al Gore story in his book AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Challenged by a friend, however, I realized I had been taking much "on faith," and needed to study the issues for myself. I did so, and will continue to do so. I have examined carefully the claims and arguments coming from Rush Limbaugh, The Heartland and Cato Institutes, Christopher Monckton of Great Britain, Sean Hannity, and many others. And I have yet to find even one argument that stands up against the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports. Many arguments, I discovered, are flat lies; at best, twisting of the facts.

Web sites I recommend for study:

a. Discussions of IPCC science: ------ www.realclimate.org

b. Discussions of what can be done: --- www.climateprogress.org

c. Discussions of anti-IPCC claims: --- www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

John

Other articles on AGW on this web site are at:

What Will You Do When The Well Runs Dry?

The Discovery of Global Warming - external web site

An essay on Global Warming

Pointers to the IPCC reports on Global Warming

A science lesson from Rush Limbaugh

My review of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, by Al Gore

My Review of GARBAGE LAND, by Elizabeth Royte (added April 8, 2006)

Repeal the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics! (humor)


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