"Keep a Journal: How else are you going to get a good look at who you were?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Global warming.

Perhaps the greatest single example of colossal Human Egotism in recorded history.

I don't mean the fact that it is happening.

I mean the fact that most of the "experts" are assuming that we caused it.

Lemme explain:

First, a question: how and why did the science of Climatology get its start?

Well, the study of climate over a particular region of the Earth has been noted as early on as the late 17th century work of Sir Edmund Halley (yes, the astronomer for whom Halley's Comet is named) in charting the trade winds of the Southern Hemisphere, and also Benjamin Franklin's 18th century work in mapping the Gulf Stream. The study of global climate and changes therein started sometime around the late 19th century after it was hypothesized that catastrophic events, such as volcanic eruptions, were observed to co-incide with temporary variations in climate patterns. Most dramatically and specifically, the eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia in 1883.

It became important to be able to predict exactly what the long-term effects of such upheavals would be on the Earth's climate. Also, how long those effects would last. About the same time, discoveries were being made that seemed to indicate that there had been serious changes in the earth's climate throughout its history. Ice ages, for instance.

The general consensus was that climate change in the short term (months or years) could be effected by a cataclysm such as a major volcanic eruption, but long term alteration to the global climate would be more likely to be caused by factors external to the Earth itself. Like collision by an asteroid, or large comet, or perhaps even a minor variation of the motion of the Earth through the heavens.

That last one was taken on by a Serbian geophysicist and mathmetician named Milutin Milankovic. In the late 1930's, he took all that was then known about the Earth's motion thru the solar system: axial tilt, axial orientation, orbital shape and inclination; along with the variances, precession, and eccentricity of all of the above.

He constructed a mathematical model that predicted the Earth had regular climatic variations; specifically, that Ice Ages were a cyclic phenomena. Every 20000 years or so, the precession of the equinoxes would result in an overall cooling, from longer winters, and shorter summers. After 5 or so of these precession cycles, a 100,000 year ice age cycle would come along in which things got very cold.

Milankovic's model wasn't perfect...there were, for instance, certain astronomical phenomena associated with the Earth's orbit that were not widely known in the 1940's. The fact that Earth's orbit has variations outside the plane of the ecliptic and that stellar dust in the ecliptic plane could interfere with the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth when it's orbit corresponds to one of those variations.

Milankovic's model has been worked on since...

At the time, the hypothesis (supported by the model) that the Earth was regularily plunged into an Ice Age caused no small stir; in fact, the popular press of the day reported that human civilization was doomed to perish slowly as temperatures dropped, growing seasons shortened, arable land froze over, and cities were buried under miles-thick sheets of advancing glacial ice...

Hey, whatever sells papers, right?

A more recent development has been attempts to match the model with what's happening now. We already know the model's cyclic nature provides a prediction of the future...but where in the cycle are we at present?

Enter the science of paleoclimatology.

We can't just look up 20,000 year old meteorological records. There aren't any. But there are lots of things that were around 20,000 years ago that are still around now and can be dug up and studied. Things like: Ice cores, ocean sediment cores and petrified trees.

Don't ask me how they've managed to match up the evidence that's been dug up with Milankovic's model, but they have. His model predicts cyclic climate variations, and cyclic climate variations is what those core samples have shown. The match up isn't perfect; but then, as I mentioned, neither was the model.

So here's the crux of the matter: Milancovic's precessional cycle has a "hot" end and a "cold" end. According to such climatic record as we have, we are a little ways past the "hot" end and headed towards the "cold" end. No need to break out the long underwear just yet; we won't actually reach the "cold" end of the cycle for several thousand years, at least. But what this means is that global temperatures either ought to be remaining steady, or even cooling by a fraction of a degree, in the last few centuries for which temperature records have been kept.

Of course, the records show that global temperatures have not, in fact, been static or even cooling ever-so-slightly...

They've gone up...ever-so-slightly.

Now, there are three possible reasons why this could be happening; against the predictions of the model.

1.) We've failed to take one or more factors into account. The model, after all, is still being refined...

2.) We broke the planet. . .I mean;" human industrialization and it's accompanying pollution has altered the atmosphere and, by extension, the climate of the entire globe".

3.) There has been a subtle shift in the Earth's motion thru the heavens and we haven't noticed it yet...

Number one is kind of irrelevant, even if the model were further refined to include the possibility of what's being observed now...I don't think it would explain why.

Number three is the possibility no-one wants to contemplate: if the Earth has, in fact, shifted subtly in its orbit, and that is what is causing Global Warming...well, there ain't a whole lot we can do about it...

And that, dear friends, brings me to option number two...and a colossal case of human arrogance and egotism.

I leave you with one final thought:

Inuit hunters in Canada's high arctic have been reporting for the past several years an unusual observation of seasonal change.

Now, you may think those living above the arctic circle have only two seasons: Winter, and Hard Sledding.

Har Har.

No, the seasons referred to are the Dark...and the Light. As you may know, above the arctic circle, it stays light for 24 hours a day a good portion of the year. It also goes dark for a similar portion of the year.

The Inuit have claimed that the Dark is ending earlier than usual. Moreover, that the sun has been rising at the end of the Dark season "in a different place". These reports were finally sent to Canadian government scientists in Ottawa.

Their conclusion?

What the Inuit have been observing is being caused by...Global Warming.

1 comment:

brianarc said...

...Specifically, a change in the diffraction index of the upper atmosphere due to an overall increase in temperature. So far as I know...no one is checking this theory. Then again, what's the point?