Man-Made Global Warming: 10 Questions

The subject of man-made global warming is almost impossible to discuss without a descent into virulent name-calling (especially on the Internet, where anonymity breeds a special kind of vicious reaction to almost any social or political question), but I’ll try anyway. I consider myself to be relatively well-read on the matter, and I’ve still come down on the skeptical side, because there are aspects of the issue that don’t make a lot of sense to me. Though I confess to have written none-too-reverentially on the subject, I want to try to put all that aside and ask ten serious questions to which I have been unable to find definitive answers:

1. What is the perfect temperature?

If we are to embark on a lifestyle-altering quest to lower the temperature (or at least minimize its rise), what is our goal? I don’t ask this flippantly. Can we demonstrate that one setting on the global thermostat is preferable over another? If so, what is it, and how do we get there? And, once there, how do we maintain it? Will we ever have to “heat things up” again if it drops below that point?

2. Just what is the average temperature of the earth?

At any one time there are temperature extremes all over the planet. How do we come up with an average, and how do those variations fit in with our desire to slow global warming?

3. What factors have led to global warming in the past, and how do we know they aren’t the causes of the current warming trend?

Again, I don’t ask this in a judgmental way. There is no argument that warming cycles (or cooling, for that matter) have been a part of earth’s history. Why are we so sure this one is different?

4. Why is there such a strong effort to stifle discussion and dissent?

I’m always troubled by arguments that begin, “Everybody agrees…” or “Everyone knows…” In fact, there is a good deal of dissent in the scientific world about the theory of man-made global warming. A large (and growing) segment of those who study such things are questioning some of the basic premises of the theory. Why should there be anything wrong with that? Again, this is a big deal, and we should have the best information and opinion from the best minds.

5. Why are there such dramatically different warnings about the effects of man-made global warming?

Predictions of 20-foot rises in ocean levels have given way to talk of a few inches over time. In many cases, those predictions are less than the rises of the past few centuries. Whatever the case, why the scare tactics?

6. Are there potential benefits to global warming?

Again, I don’t ask this mockingly. Would a warmer climate in some areas actually improve living conditions? Would such improvement (health, crop production, lifestyle) balance any negative impact from the phenomenon?

7. Should such drastic changes in public policy be based on a “what if?” proposition?

There are some who say we can’t afford to wait, and, even if there’s some doubt, we should move ahead with altering the way we live. While there are good arguments for changing some of our environmental policies, should they be based on “what it?”

8. What will be the impact on the people of the world if we change the way we live based on man-made global warming concerns?

Nothing happens in a vacuum; there are always unintended consequences to our actions. For example, if we were to dramatically reduce our need for international oil, what happens to the economies of the Middle East and the populations that rely on oil income? There are thousands of other implications, some good and some bad. What are they? Shouldn’t we be thinking about them and talking about them?

9. How will we measure our successes?

Is the measuring stick going to be temperature, sea level, number of annual hurricanes, rainfall, or a combination of all those things? Again, do we have a goal in mind? What happens when we get there?

10. How has this movement gained such momentum?

We’ve faced environmental issues throughout our history, but it’s difficult to remember one which has gained such “status” in such a short time. To a skeptic, there seems to be a religious fervor that makes one wary. A gradual “ramping down” of the dire predictions has not led to a diminution of the doomsday rhetoric. Are these warning signs that the movement has become more of an activist cause than a scientific reality?

Just asking.

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  • Riccck

    Excellent series of questions.  Man made global warming is of course highly theoretical since Earth’s climate has always been highly erratic, never more so than during the Pleistocene era.  Both the historical pattern and geopulsation theory indicate that we should now be approaching the peak of the present interglacial (warm) phase. This no doubt will be followed by another glacial episode, starting within the next several centuries or so (see Roots of Cataclysm, Algora Publ. NY 2009).

  • bill

    “Everyone else in the world…” you mean like Darfur and the numerous meetings in Europe that ended in failure? Everyone knows its a sham. Only American Leftists are true believers- they’ll believe anything if it gives them some sort of validation.

  • DearMom

    ~ And,,, Al Gore is desperately trying to get rich ~

  • DearMom

    validation AND money AND power

  • DearMom

    Has Yobama gotten around to lowering the oceans yet?

  • vandalii

    The answer to many of these questions is one of money.

    Without a uniform and hysterical message from so-called scientists, the opportunity to cash in on mega-dollar research grants drops off dramatically. Even NASA has gone off the deep end while trying to re-invent itself as a relevant and vital organization. Without the high-visibility space programs, they found themselves being viewed as a collection of geeks that really aren’t that important to the imagination-less population in the USA. So they joined the parade, having lots of high-tech equipment circling the earth that can take pictures and thermal maps, selectively put forth to the low-information public as “facts”. Suddenly, they’re back in the limelight and in the money ’cause everyone wants to save the planet, right? And who would dispute highly respected rocket scientists and astronauts…except (previously) highly-regarded meteorologists and climatologists not blinded by the bright lights of climate change research grants. Of course, dissent is immediately labelled luddite behavior, scientists get fired from their jobs at NASA, NOAA, NCAR, Nxxx (name your national organization involved in trying to wheedle money out of the gov’t for research grants).

    No, this is not about science. Scientists have always had opposing camps on theories of physics, chemistry, geology, climatology, etc. This is about trumpeting “the science is decided” when, in fact, science is *never* decided. Science is about observing, cataloging and extrapolating, not about “deciding” things. This is a multi-billion dollar industry just like any other, with marketing climate change as the single most important topic, ever. That way there’s little or no argument when gov’ts start shoveling money your way to save us collectively.

    Snake oil, anyone?

  • vandalii

    New executive order due to come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. any time now…

  • James D Boyd Ph.D.

    Fred Singer’s book, “Global warming is unstoppable every 1500 years” is a good book to read to get answers for some of these questions. The global warming models only consider atmospheric circulation and do not include water vapor, which is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, because they do not know. The effect of water vapor is not known to be positive or negative. It is my opinion that it is both depending on the needs of the earth to remain in a temperature zone for the benefit of man. I read an article years ago, which I have not been able to find, that said scientists had determined that the Gulf of Mexico’s temperature was maintained fairly constant by cloud cover, more when it is warm and less when it is cold. The thing that has turned global warming into a pseudo religion is the grants that fund research. And they are politically allocated.

  • Bill

    The residents of the coastal cities will just have to move inland to places that really dislike the residents of coastal cities.

  • disenwit

    Years ago I sent a letter to the Sierra Club about an article they authored on this that was in National Geographic as I recall. The article listed some 8 or 9 things that warming was going to destroy… crops dying from too much heat and droughts in Africa… people dying from heat waves.. and a number of things I can’t recall. I wrote to them, and with regard to all of the horrors they mentioned, said.. why can’t crops increase up in Canada when it warms up and more rain falls… and why won’t the people in the far south and far north survive the winters and not freeze to death.. etc. In other words a logical opposite conclusion for each “factual” argument. At the end of my letter I said, how do you know everything will be bad and nothing good? I got a letter back that simply said, we don’t know which way those things will go but we simply can’t take the chance that it won’t be the bad way, and that’s why we’re working to stop global warming. I was struck by the answer.. we don’t know.. but we’re going to assume things will be bad! I wish I’d kept copies but unfortunately didn’t.

  • David Rice

    Q: “Are there potential benefits to global warming?”

    A: Yes and
    No. The answer depends upon “For whom?” Some species will benefit; most
    species will not. Humanity, for example, will not and have not
    benefited from human-caused climate change. This question was answered
    by the world’s experts in the subject more than three decades ago.

    Q: “Just what is the average temperature of the earth?”

    A: At the moment? 14.60C

    Q: “Why is there such a strong effort to stifle discussion and dissent?”

    A: No.

  • Bill

    Water is the new Oil, folks. The smart investors are putting cash into water sources. Oil is nice for lighting on fire and all, but there are alternatives to fossil fuels.

    As water born creatures, we really need water.

  • eagle keeper

    How arrogant we humans are to think we can control the weather. We the created think somehow God got things so wrong concerning the environment, that we think we know better than Him of what the average anything should be at any time and anywhere? If so, what significant change has man made in oh I don’t know? Lets say we want to change what time the sun comes up because we want to sleep longer on Saturday, for example? Yea right. Still waiting on that one.