Part 2: Is The Earth Warming Significantly?
by Richard C Kozinski, August 2004
Appeared in Magazine #56, the July/August 2004 edition of
Cool Profit$ Magazine
from the editor)
Is significant global warming an irrefutable fact or is it an overstated myth perpetuated by various well-meaning scientists who have failed to consider variables such as ocean heat storage, precipitation, and increased cloud cover, all of which have an ameliorating affect on earth’s tendency to warm from increasing greenhouse gases? Is it possible global cooling is occurring?
Fact Or Fiction, Industries ARE Changing!
The difficulty in assessing if the earth has warmed in the last 100 years is the lack of accuracy of the data of that earlier period.
The threat of future global warming is profoundly changing many industries. Venting of refrigerants and fossil fuel burning among others is causing increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted up to a 10°F rise in earth’s surface temperature in one hundred years. Some refrigerants have been eliminated; alternative refrigerants are being studied. Automobiles are moving toward fuel cell power in an effort to stem this ever-increasing greenhouse gas concentration in our atmosphere.
However, there are also scientists who say that satellite temperature readings in the past three decades show almost no change in global temperatures, in fact the stratosphere at a 13-mile altitude has recently cooled about 3°F. They point out that plant growth has significantly increased as CO2 has increased helping to feed an ever-increasing population. The environmentalists have treated these people with disdain calling them shills for the fossil fuel industry. Until a few months ago, this writer, like most readers, believed that global warming was a done deal, especially with the media showing headlines such as:
• CO2 has hit record highs
• Warming oceans melting glaciers
• Barrier reefs gone in 50 years
• Health risks associated with global warming
However, as an owner of a Michigan air conditioning installation and service business, I’ve been waiting for this global warming to bless my area with some hot summer temperatures reminiscent of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Michigan has had mostly cool summers since 1988 and a/c businesses have suffered accordingly. In fact, 1994 was the coolest in most of Michigan (1971-2000), long after CO2 increases started. Also, the northeast in the winter of 2003 had record cold weather.
This report started out as a simple explanation of factors involved in global warming. But after just a little research, I find myself questioning whether increasing CO2 is really causing cooling or warming of the earth. The mission of this article now is to get climate scientists to revisit assumptions used in their climate models. I’m concerned that what universities are teaching climatology students today may be greatly oversimplified, or worse yet, just plain wrong.
Several experiences from the 1980’s make me skeptical of scientific reports that have not had thorough peer review.
Global Warming/Flooding Study
In 1986, shoreline communities along the Great Lakes were flooding with no end in sight. Government spokesmen barraged the media with statements that rainfall for the last 15 years was the highest of the 20th century, and that at their own peril, people had simply moved too close to the water. However, a little investigation found that rainfall of 100 years ago (1870-1884) was actually higher and lake levels substantially lower. The true culprit is now known; man has systematically restricted the Niagara River since 1920, causing a significant rise in upper lake levels. This revelation caused the governments of Canada and the U.S. to undertake a water levels study aimed at solutions for future flooding. I became part of a governmental study group that generated a report about the effect of global warming on future lake levels.
That preliminary report turned out to be nothing but a scare scenario. It claimed that warmer winter air temperatures would cause increased evaporation, and that lake levels would drop 9.0 feet. Also, turnover of water, which occurs twice a year, would soon cease, causing a great fish die-off. Turnover occurs when water surface temperatures reach 39.4°F, which is waters highest density. At this temperature, water flows to the bottom taking along the oxygen needed for fish life.
Again, an investigation found that the evaporation formula assumptions were wrong. Actually, less evaporation would occur with increasing winter temperatures. The final report was drastically different in its conclusions (a 3 ft drop instead of 9 ft). Had this initial report not been challenged, there is no telling what impact it would have on subsequent environmental laws and views. Suffice it to say that lake levels and turnover still have not been affected 15 years later.
During this study, scientists had assumed increasing CO2 would cause more clouds, and that more clouds would warm the earth. In 1989, it was discovered clouds cooled the earth. This is just another example of scientific misjudgment.
A Little Climatological History
While climatologists generally agree that the earth was 1°F cooler 100 years ago, I have absolutely no confidence in that conclusion. The lack of electronics, transportation, method of measurements or even a motive for accurate readings in 1900 make this data suspect. CO2 was approximately 280 ppm in the atmosphere and held steady into the 1930’s when the earth warmed significantly. That period of heat and drought caused the “dust bowl” in areas such as Oklahoma, while most of the Great Lakes’ water levels were the lowest ever measured.
From 1940 to 1970, CO2 concentrations increased significantly due to industrialization, but the earth cooled about 1°F, and some even feared that a new ice age was coming. But when the 1980’s brought six of the century’s highest world temperatures, the “Ice Agers” soon became “Global Warmists.” Today the CO2concentration is 370 ppm and has been increasing annually at 1.8 ppm (0.48%) over the last 10 years.
Climatologists have published earth temperatures of periods such as 100,000 years ago based on CO2 readings derived from ice cores. They appear to relate CO2to earth surface temperature. Using their reasoning, what would they conclude about 1940 versus 1970?
Why are scientists not using the 1930’s as a baseline for global temperatures? After all, CO2had not increased much since thirty years before and measurement technology was vastly superior. Using this period of course would show no global warming in the last 70 years, making the whole scenario a little tougher to sell.
About 1000 years ago, the earth was in a warm phase. Erik the Red and his son Leif Ericson settled on Greenland when the glacier had retreated, and farmed the land. 700 years ago, the earth cooled and the Dark Ages commenced. Did CO2 changes cause all these variances? That is doubtful.
Consider this Hypothesis: If parts of the ocean bottom split, causing hot molten rock to be exposed to ocean water at extreme pressures, a gigantic steam boiler would be created. This boiler heats the oceans until the molten rock cools, which may take hundreds of years. Even today, there are steam geysers emanating at the ocean bottom. Ocean surface temperatures have a great effect on climate as evidenced recently by the El Nino effect. Because the core of the earth is cooling and shrinking, splits or fissures are a plausible possibility. (Is this what happened to the water on Mars? If so, it may still be within Mars’ core as it cooled and contracted.)
Theory Of How Greenhouse Gases Cause Global Warming
Solar heat from the sun comes to us in the form of shortwave radiation. For the most part, it travels unabated through the earth’s greenhouse gases. The earth emits heat back to space in the form of long wave radiation, also called black body radiation. Some of this incoming heat is reflected back into space, such as off the snow-covered glaciers. Greenhouse gases absorb some of the outbound long wave radiation, thus reducing this heat outflow. If earth’s emitting surface warms up, the heat outflow goes up. As greenhouse gases increase, scientists can calculate how much the earth’s surface temperature must rise to balance incoming solar heat. Climatology courses in our universities teach that incoming heat must be balanced by outgoing heat. While sounding perfectly plausible, it may be a flawed, incomplete theory. The oceans have such great heat-holding capacity that in a 100-year time span, they can absorb a significant imbalance without changing temperature. This will be more fully discussed.
Ocean Heat Storage Versus Heating the Atmosphere
Oceans make up 72% of the earths surface, and they have over 1000 times the thermal mass of our atmosphere. While the man-made heat mentioned in this report could warm the atmosphere 1°F in five years, it would take five thousand years for that heat to raise the ocean temperature by 1°F. Rainfall puts heat into the ocean from the lower atmosphere, but there’s no law of physics that says when the oceans must release this heat (certainly not immediately).
The affect of rain is seen in a practical sense by comparing peak summer temperatures of Miami, Florida to Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix, which lies much further north than Miami, is much hotter but has less rainfall. If increased CO2 levels cause increased clouds and precipitation, then more atmospheric cooling occurs. Increased precipitation means more ocean evaporation. Evaporation cools the ocean. All man-made heat for 10 years is balanced by just 3/8 of an inch of evaporation increase from the ocean in those 10 years.
Perhaps now your are starting to appreciate the complexity of the problem and the difficulty in making a definite conclusion on whether CO2 increase is causing global cooling or warming. Professor Roger A. Pielke of Colorado State University states, in a report on ocean heat storage, that the IPCC should start considering this factor in their climate models. The question is, why they haven’t before?
Ocean Temperatures: How Accurate Can They Be?
Certain scientists studying ocean temperatures report that oceans have increased 1/20°C, or about 1/10°F, over the last 50 years. What makes me question this conclusion is that the ocean has a great deal of vertical and horizontal currents and a large temperature difference between surface and bottom. Plus, how do you get truly accurate temperature measurements when the size of what you’re trying to measure is 140 million square miles? That is so large that even if a square mile could be measured every minute, it would take 280 years to measure the whole. The thrust of their report is that man is causing this increase. But there’s no mention of the tremendous heat transfer occurring from the earth’s core into the 35°F bottom water. Until this heat transfer can be accurately quantified, any ocean temperature change blamed on man has to be looked at with skepticism.
A report published by the IPCC states that clouds over land have increased by 2% in the last 100 years. In another report, however, they state that due to varying thickness, density, and water vapor, clouds today are one of the most uncertain factors in the climate change equation. In 1900, there was no Doppler radar, weather satellites or highflying airplanes. So how was this 2% conclusion reached?
The IPCC also states that since 1900, precipitation over the northern hemisphere has increased by up to 10%. But since we know that clouds cool the earth, it hurts their global warming theory to have both clouds and precipitation increasing at the same rate. Dr. Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has written extensively on the cloud topic and its uncertainty. She also discusses reasons why climate change and CO2 concentration are not related. Her very excellent report, titled “The Kyoto Protocol and Global Warming,” March 2002, Volume 31, Number 3 issue of imprimis is recommended reading. It’s available on the Internet at:
Forcing: Global warming is calculated by using the amount of “forcing.” Scientists say, for instance, that if CO2 is doubled (370 ppm to 740 ppm) then a forcing of 2 watts/meter2 occurs. (Think of pointing a heat lamp, which generates 2 watts of power, on every square meter of earth.) This is enough energy, if concentrated on the air in the atmosphere, to raise its temperature 10°F in one year. However, concentrate that same amount of heat on the ocean and it would only raise the water temperature 1°F in 100 years. But if the ocean’s evaporation rate increased by one inch per year, the temperature wouldn‘t rise at all. Therefore, if precipitation has been increasing since 1900 then evaporation must also have increased.
If the oceans and a little land area, such as part of the glaciers and mountain tops, do not increase temperature, lets say over 50 years, then we can conclude that only 20% or so of total earth’s surface will rise due to this forcing. A 5°F rise in that 20% of area means average global rise is 20% of 5°F, or 1°F.
Another factor to consider is that hard surface temperature rise does not increase air temperature 5 feet above that surface by the same amount. Phoenix blacktop may reach 200°F on a hot sunny day, but air directly above it is hardly that hot. Why? It’s because convective currents will stir up the heat.
Summary Of This Installment
The climate is a very complex issue. Even with all of our sophisticated data collection and analysis equipment, climatologists cannot predict weather beyond a very short time.
On average, the world is not warmer now as compared to 70 years ago. This in spite of great increases in man-made heat and CO2 concentrations increasing 30% in that period. There is no argument that greenhouse gases decrease emittance, but the real question is are other factors such as increasing cloud cover, increasing precipitation and ocean heat storage counteracting the greenhouse effect?
It is obvious that the IPCC climate models have not considered these factors and should. The Sun’s solar radiation, which is beyond the research done here, may also vary much more then the 2-watt/meter2 forces discussed. As long as the ocean temperature lags behind the increases in land based temperature, the average global temperature can only rise to a small percentage of land surface increase. The lag time may be infinity. The contention by many in academia, that incoming solar heat must be balanced by leaving heat to space, is simply flawed thinking; it may require infinity to realize that principle.
As the core of the earth cools, so will our very long-term future climate. The sun eventually will also cool. In the meantime, should we be changing our whole way of life on an incalculable, poorly understood “red herring” called the climate?
The next installment will delve into man-made heat and its effect on cities. An example will be shown on how rain cools the atmosphere and reduces the “forcing” effect on land by 90%. We will discuss satellite temperature and glaciers.
As I write this, from southern Michigan in mid-July, 2004, we’ve had only three days of 90°F so far this year. Normally, we will have had over 10 days by now. Michigan in May had record rainfall. Global warming?
How Bad Is The US Actually? Points To Ponder
Earth has six billion people and 197 million square miles of surface touching the atmosphere, so there are approximately 30 people per square mile.
Each square mile of atmosphere contains about 30 million pounds of CO2. At current rates, 152,000 pounds are added each year.
The 30 people put out about 11,000 pounds of CO2/year by exhaling into this square mile.
The United States refines about 8 million barrels of oil per day, about 30% of world oil production. If burned, this puts out about 12,000 pounds of CO2 into the square mile per year.
15 million SUVs on earth contribute about 15% of the CO2 in pounds into this square mile that breathing humans do.
The United States is a net zero emitter of CO2 due to immense forestation, converting CO2 to carbon and oxygen.* So why are we called the big polluter?
(*Based on: “That Kyoto is a Fraud” by Owen McShane, December 4, 2003. See
Part 3 of this series will explain the basics of GW and the “Greenhouse
Effect” and will appear in the July/August issue of Cool Profit$
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