Scientists disagree about which direction Earth's temperature is trending: most say warmer and others say cooler. Now they say "climate change" instead of "global warming" so both sides can be right.
The mainstream media supports the hypothesis - and presents it as fact - that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the culprit, resulting from man's activities. The science is very complex, and today's climate models aren't sophisticated enough to determine with any confidence just what direction Earth's average temperature will trend next, and why.
It is astounding to me that so many people have bought the claims that man's activities are the key reason why Earth's temperatures are changing. There is plenty of solid evidence that natural reasons are the greatest contributor to temperature fluctuations, such as long-term climatic cycles, solar activity, etc.
What really befuddles me is that so many scientists hitch their wagon to carbon dioxide as the primary cause of climate change, including those at NASA. Yet, there are plenty of other possibilities that have not been ruled out. Scientists ought to know better than to pin their early conclusions down as if those were supported by hard facts.
Raise the topic at a dinner party, and watch the sparks fly. Our emotions get the better of us when we've formed an opinion based on consensus instead of hard facts. If you read enough about climate change, the only accurate conclusion you can reach is that we really don't have a good handle on the matter.
The Obama Administration believes in Anthropogenic Global Warming caused by mankind's spewing of CO2 into the atmosphere. It is convinced that the same gas we all exhale is the culprit to a problem we can't confidently prove we have.
Carbon dioxide makes up a very small portion of Earth's atmosphere: 338 parts per million. Recently, some scientists have created models showing that rising levels of carbon dioxide are the result of warming instead of the cause of it (if warming is indeed taking place). These models are terribly imprecise, so they don't yet give us enough hard evidence to actually prove this hypothesis.
My engineering sensibilities make me favor the warming-increases- CO2 hypothesis, because it makes sense that warming causes increased levels of organic decay, which in turn generates more carbon dioxide.
Not nearly enough research has been done to prove or rule out another warming culprit: water vapor. Water vapor makes up a very large portion of Earth's atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide - up to 20 percent in warm, humid regions. In two narrow infrared frequency bands, water vapor doesn't absorb and re-radiate thermal infrared radiation as effectively as carbon dioxide does. Though, it is a more effective greenhouse gas over a much broader infrared spectrum, and there is much more of it.
Wikipedia states, "Water vapor accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36 percent and 66 percent for clear sky conditions and between 66 percent and 85 percent when it is cloudy. Water vapor concentrations fluctuate regionally, but human activity does not significantly affect water vapor concentrations..."
There it is: mankind has little impact upon the largest contributor to the greenhouse effect. But before we "deniers" break out the bubbly (bubbles created by trapped CO2), Wikipedia then states, "The average residence time of a water molecule in the atmosphere is only about nine days, compared to years or centuries for other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and CO2. Thus, water vapor responds to and amplifies effects of the other greenhouse gases... Because water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this results in further warming, a ‘positive feedback' that amplifies the original warming."
What does all this mean? It's saying that water vapor plays a pivotal role in climate change, but we should focus instead on how water vapor exacerbates the effects of gases formed by burning fossil fuels.
Masterfully executed, but not so fast: If an individual water molecule's "hang time" in the atmosphere is only nine days, does that mean that the warming effect of water molecules is fleeting?
Like all good elitists, they believe that we, the unwashed masses, aren't too bright. They hope we won't catch the fundamental failure in their logic, which is: it doesn't matter whether infrared energy is captured and re-radiated by one water molecule or another one; it only matters that there are countless numbers of molecules doing the job at any given time.
What if water vapor was indeed the main contributor to climate change? Should the U.S. continue to pursue the "cap and trade" carbon credit system that the EPA wants to enforce, which would target the wrong culprit and burden our economy? Common sense would suggest not. Would the current administration create arguments to support the claim that humans are causing increased levels of water vapor, therefore they must control that too? Maybe. Could they figure out a way to put a tax on water vapor emissions? You betcha!
Peter LaChance is a conservative blogger from Lower Makefield and he is involved in Bucks County politics. His posts will appear other Thursday and discuss government, politics and current affairs. Please post your comments for all to see. For personal communications, Peter can be reached at Peter@Changineers.com. Politically Correct bloggers post each Thursday.