Thursday, April 05, 2007

Has Al Gore's CO2 Theory Fizzled Out? (part one)

A Crimes of the State Investigation

If you track the popular Internet videos, you may have come across a British TV production called The Great Global Warming Swindle (Google Video). I do not wish to defend the propaganda, the personalities, or the several straw man arguments that appear in this lengthy program.

All I want to focus on is the science.

This is a study of some global warming dissenters in the climate field.

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is also explored, in particular Gore's central claim, the theory of manmade global warming as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere:

"The relationship is very complicated, but there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and it is this: when there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer." --Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth

This quote is presented in The Great Global Warming Swindle at around 20 minutes in, and then it is mercilessly shredded by the climate scientists.

According to Al Gore's theory, increased levels of carbon dioxide CAUSE an increase in global temperature. But, interestingly enough, Al Gore does not prove this in his film. Far from it. The very real possibility that increases in temperature cause an increase in carbon dioxide levels (and not vice-versa) is never addressed. Al Gore has short-changed humanity in this most glaring omission: establishing causation.

So, which is it?

Does a rise in carbon dioxide cause a rise in the temperature?

OR, does a rise in the temperature cause a rise in carbon dioxide?
This is no small question. The entire global economy is being reengineered on the assumption that the first scenario is true. But is it really?

What About 800 Years of Lag?

The big counter-argument to Gore is made by Professor Ian Clark, Dept. of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Clark says that the ice core record shows that changes in atomospheric carbon levels come after the temperature has already changed, in one example by as much as 800 years.

"CO2 clearly cannot be causing temperature changes. It's a product of temperature. It's following temperature changes." --Professor Ian Clark

This is highly significant, if true, as it completely disproves Al Gore's theory of manmade global warming. This view is seconded by Professor Tim Ball, a Climatologist at the University of Winnipeg:

"But the ice core record shows exactly the opposite. So the fundamental assumption, the most fundamental assumption of the whole theory of climate change -- due to humans -- is shown to be wrong." --(emphasis in original) Professor Tim Ball, Dept. of Climatology, University of Winnipeg

Is There a Better Alternative Theory?

The film presents an alternate theory that better matches the data: Changes in sun activity cause changes in global temperature.

Other scientists who study sunspots, which are actually gigantic storms and indicate more solar activity, present their case.

The data record of changes in solar activity can be corroborated by multiple data sources. The conclusion of the film is that this record proves that sun activity correlates to global temperature far better than CO2 levels do.

This is a simplified, scaled-down summary of the claims made by the two camps.Further investigation will be needed.

Enter The Politics

If the CO2 theory is completely wrong, and the effects of human CO2 emissions are negligible, and therefore do not affect temperature in any measurable way, then the political side of this argument must be examined in detail.

The global economy includes numerous energy sectors (oil, coal, nuclear, ethanol, as well as clean alternatives), farm and agriculture (biofuels), international trade and agreements, and even proposed new industries that allow "trading" of newly defined "caps on emissions," a fictional concept somehow given monetary value.

This means that big players have a stake in the outcome, as does every man, woman and child on planet earth.

Unsurprisingly, Al Gore has an investment, possibly a conflict of interest in the "carbon trading" game. Gore is a co-founder of Generation Investment Management LLP, and we learn that:

"As an Associate member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, Generation [Gore's firm] has made a legally binding commitment to purchase Carbon Financial Instruments (CFIs) sufficient to 100% offset the greenhouse gas emissions caused annually by our firm's electricity use and business travel for the period 2005-2010." --Generation Investment Management LLP website

Albert Gore has a responsibility to answer these charges, and to prove the former scenario, if he is going to go to congress and give his seal of approval to building new nuclear power plants as a response to this purported carbon dioxide "pollution" problem.

As long as carbon dioxide can be called a "polllutant," you and your family are by definition -- as biological organisms -- "polluters." I really don't like the road this line of reasoning points down. It has the quasi-religious flavor of "Original Sin." Leveraging guilt into political and economic activity is a very old game indeed.

Professor Ball states that CO2 is only 0.54* percent of the atmosphere. All human contributions of CO2 combined remain a small fraction of that amount. It's time we got to the actual truth, no matter to whom it is "inconvenient."

* Corrected on 4/9/07