Monday, November 20, 2006

Global Warming Revisited

Gerald and Natalie Sirkin, whose writings have appeared on this site before, wade into the Global Warming swamp and surface with some sound data.

By Gerald and Natalie Sirkin

Europe is stepping up its campaign to persuade the United States to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and stop global warming. The British Government has just released a report commissioned by Parliament, the Stern Report, which finds the future cost of global warming to be very high and the cost of implementing Kyoto very low. How can any country turn down such big benefits at such low costs?

One reason the U.S. is not leaping at the bargain is that the cost and benefit estimates of the Stern Report are questionable. The Stern Report estimates that the cost of cutting emissions to 60% to 80% below the 1990 levels would be about 1% of global domestic product. However, other estimates range as high as 16%. As Jerry Taylor, an expert on energy- and climate-policy at the CATO Institute, says, the wide range of cost-estimates tells us we are guessing.

In any event, economic analysis is premature. First, climate science should tell us what we are dealing with.

Global temperature has for thousands of years been subject to wide variations. Ice ages and warm periods come and go in cycles. These temperature swings have obviously nothing to do with man’s activities.

There is no correlation between recent variations in temperature and greenhouse gas emissions. Global temperature increased ½º Celsius in the past century. But most of that increase occurred before 1940, when human CO2 emissions were not large. From 1940 to 1970, when CO2 emissions were rising, global temperature did not rise. In fact, global temperature fell slightly. Since then, temperature has risen by a small amount, much less than predicted by the global warming models.

Global temperature correlates not with CO2 emissions but with the brightness of the sun. Cycles of the sun’s magnetism agree well with the timing of global temperatures.

The solar cycles and the climate cycles that follow from them are described in the soon -to-be-released Unstoppable Global Warming, Every 1,500 Years, by leading climate physicist S. Fred Singer and Hudson Institute Analyst Dennis T. Avery (Lanaham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007, pp. 260).

Over the past two million years, the earth has experienced long cycles of ice ages lasting 90,000 to 100,000 years and interglacial warm periods of 10,000 to 20,000 years. The present interglacial period began about 11,500 years ago. Temperature-changes between glacial and interglacial periods are large, 5º to 7º Celsius, and even as much as 15º to 20º Celsius.

Our picture of climate cycles changed sharply with the publication in 1984 of research by a Danish and a Swiss scientist. They were able to get very deep ice cores from Greenland, which covered 900,000 years of climate history. Analysis of the cores showed cycles of warming and cooling varying about 4º Celsius from peak to trough, and averaging 1,500 years in length.

Currently, we are in a cycle that began with the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1850 and a warming since then. This warming has nothing to do with greenhouse gasses, and nothing we do about emissions will affect it.

Is there anything to worry about? Singer and Avery look at the various fears that global warmists raise.

Will warming raise sea-levels and flood coastal areas and islands? Warming will expand sea water and melt ice. On the other hand, warming will increase evaporation of sea water, increase precipitation, and add ice to the Antarctic ice cap. Evidence indicates that the net result of these counteracting effects will be very little change in sea level.

Will warming increase the frequency and severity of hurricanes and other storms? The expectations are just the opposite. The Caribbean had three times as many major hurricanes per year during the Little Ice Age than during the warming period since 1950. Storms are driven by the temperature difference between the equator and the Polar Regions. Warming raises the temperature more at the poles than at the equator, reducing the difference and moderating the storms.

Will warming raise death-rates? We have modern ways of protecting people from extreme heat and we can control insects that spread disease. Freezing weather is far more dangerous to human health. To the extent that global warming alleviates freezing, it will reduce death-rates.

The neglected feature of global warming in the discussions of it is the benefit of CO2 and warmer temperatures. CO2 is a fertilizer. It increases the production of vegetation and crops. Warmer temperatures lengthen the growing season and expand the areas available for agriculture.

The conclusion of climate science is that variations of global temperature are a natural phenomenon. Human emissions of greenhouse gasses are an insignificant factor.

The Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions can contribute nothing to human well-being. Even if greenhouse emissions were significant, Kyoto could achieve nothing. Developing countries, particularly the most rapidly growing emitters like China and India, are excluded from having to cut emissions under Kyoto. The European countries that have signed the Protocol have done nothing to reduce their emissions. In fact, they have increased them.

If the U.S. were to sign on, it would be left to carry the load of the required enormous reduction in the use of energy. It would cripple the economy. It would mean a drastic fall in the standard of living, the movement of industries and loss of jobs to countries that are not restricted by Kyoto including Mexico, Brazil, China, and India; and a severe shortage of electricity, and increased deaths.

America’s competitors in the world market would love it, but it is to be hoped that the U.S. will not be so misguided as to accept the erroneous science of global warming.
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