Friday, February 24th 2012, 8:00 AM EST
The historical temperature record shows that the earth has warmed about 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1850. But does that warming prove that we caused it? Some politicians in Washington say adding more carbon dioxide to the air is closing the window at the top of the atmosphere and allowing less heat to escape to space. The answer as to whether this is true or not is not going to come from looking at how much the earth has warmed up in the last 150 years. This planet has warmed and cooled so many times in the past that the current temperature trend is just a repeat of what has happened many, many times before. There are simply too many natural temperature cycles caused by too many forces of nature that will mask any underlying forcing mechanism. Thankfully there is a new way to find an answer. With the advent of the satellite era in the 1960s a revolutionary method of how to evaluate our possible impact on climate was born.
The satellites have the advantage of being free of all the effects that make surface temperature measurements so unreliable in evaluating our impact on climate. They can measure the entire irradiance of the earth from their perch high above the atmosphere without the problems ground based thermometers have. Problems like changing thermometer technology over the last 150 years. Problems such as urban sprawl spreading into the countryside warming long-term temperature readings that once were cooler when they were in a rural setting. Problems such as the uneven distribution of thermometers around the world and the lack of them over the oceans. The satellites are free of all of this and have been measuring the amount of long-wave radiation (heat) escaping from the atmosphere into space since the mid 1970s. The satellites know the size of the window and how much heat is getting through.
If the man-made greenhouse gas theory is correct the amount of heat going through the window into space should be decreasing over the last few decades, the window at the top of the atmosphere should be closing. Since 80% of all man made carbon dioxide emissions have been produced after 1940 we should be able to detect how much the window is closing over the last nearly four decades. If it is closing, less heat can sneak through to space and the atmosphere below will gradually warm up. The beauty of the satellites is that we can objectively deduce if it is closing. If it is, this would be significant evidence that burning of fossil fuels is strengthening the natural greenhouse effect and causing man made global warming.
So what do the satellites show? Since the mid-1970s the satellite data show no trend either up or down in Click here to read more outgoing long wave radiation. Plain and simple, the satellites say the window is just as wide open now as it was in 1974. The average value of outgoing long wave radiation through the last nearly four decades is about 232.5 watts per square meter. As stated above, there has been very little long term variation in this number since 1974. However, during that time carbon dioxide has increased from 330 parts per million to 392 parts per million today, an increase of 62 parts per million. The pre-industrial revolution carbon dioxide base line value is about 280 parts per million. Since then we have seen a rise of 112 parts per million. The 62 parts per million rise since 1974 represents a 55% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the 1850 level. Surely such a significant rise in carbon dioxide should be closing the window up there, if the theory is correct, but it’s not.
Is it possible that in some places the window is closing and not in others? No, it doesn’t matter where you look. The data shows no trend up or down at either of the poles. Water vapor is most of the greenhouse effect but at the poles, where there is much less water vapor due to the colder temperature, carbon dioxide is a more significant warming agent. But even in those locations where it should be most obvious, there is no indication that the window is closing, at either pole. The data shows the window is not closing above the tropics where the largest amount of outgoing long wave radiation is found. If the greenhouse effect is becoming more potent the out going long wave radiation would show a noticeable decreasing trend over the last nearly four decades in all of these regions but it does not. If the trend were there the satellite data would detect it. Actually since 2003 the amount of heat escaping to space has increased slightly. This increase is just part of the small natural variation that occurs over time and likely does not represent any long term trend.
Real world evidence from nearly four decades of satellite data has proven that large increases in carbon dioxide have not shown any sign of closing the window at the top of the atmosphere. No amount of computer modeling or rhetoric from famous people or proclamations from large institutions or speeches from our leaders in Washington can change this. The data alone should be enough for thoughtful, reasonable people to re-consider the causes of climate change. Unfortunately we are dealing with people and institutions with many different agendas in the global warming arena. Many of these individuals and institutions have a major financial stake in bolstering the man made global warming scare. Makers of windmills and solar panels are not going to suddenly admit that the greenhouse effect is not getting stronger. Their entire livelihood depends on it. The recent scandals of failed alternative energy companies are everywhere. Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars are being sucked out of our bankrupt economy only to see it washed down the drain by failed wind and solar companies. All because our leaders will not recognize that the window up there above us is just as wide open as it always has been.
Fossil fuels will be the energy source that powers the future for many decades to come. Knowledgeable people will continue to point out the overt flaws in the man-made global warming theory. These flaws have resulted in destructive policies that threaten your safety and prosperity, no matter what political party you belong to. The satellites say the window in the sky is open. The question is, when will our leaders open their eyes.