Friday, December 28, 2007

Dire predictions

In today's WSJ is a pair of articles warming! The first, on B1, by Robert Lee Hotz, details how one is supposed to track carbon and why we can't find so much of it. The second, technically not an article, is a group of two letters (A11).

Gist of the first: Some carbon produced by mankind's existence "seeps into soil, vegetation and the oceans, where it can't affect climate so immediately." However, wildfires and droughts prevent some of this carbon uptake, resulting in great confusion:

"A quarter of all the CO2 that is emitted is going somewhere, and we don't know where," said David Crisp at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he is senior scientist for the $270 million Orbiting Carbon Observatory, set for launch next December. "That raises a lot of red flags."

Because of the problem of 'missing' CO2, scientists have been scrutinizing our entire continent to find out just where all the carbon is going, using an online system called, not surprisingly, CarbonTracker. Not only do we now have that huge system to deal with, we have an even more time-consuming (energy-consuming? Hypocrite!) system [emphasis added]:

NASA and the Japanese Space Agency expect to launch satellites next year to track global CO2 concentrations almost half a million times a day, in a more precise diagnosis of this planetary carbon catch-and-release system.

Lastly, all the wildfires are evidently starting a cycle of more CO2-less herbage-less CO2 trapped... But read on--the letters show a somewhat altered perspective. Emphasis mine.

Says geologist M. A. Kaufman in Spokane Valley, Wash.:

If one wants to join the crowd promoting carbon dioxide-caused global warming...delving into geological history doesn't promote the cause well. Historically, high CO2 levels have been a symptom of warming, not a cause.

There have been periods when atmospheric CO2 levels were up to 16 times what they are now, periods characterized not by warming but by glaciation.

Yes, you might have to go back 650,000 years to match our current atmospheric CO2 level, but you only have to go back to the Medieval Warming period that occurred from the 10th into the 14th century to find an intense global-warming episode. This was immediately followed by drastic cooling of the Little Ice Age.

Neither of these events was caused by variations in CO2 levels, but were most likely the result of variations in solar irradiance caused by changes in the sun's magnetic field.

Richard M. of Oakland, CA, hearkens back to when Time foretold global cooling (*gasp*)...

We should fear cooling, not warming. A warmer earth would be good for humans today, as it was 1,000 years ago. However, even more we should fear the unscientific hysteria that attributes all change to humans. Yes, we are putting a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, but no, this has nothing to do with the modest warming we are currently experiencing. The Little Ice Age has come to an end all of its own accord, and humans should be glad.

I won't add any more.


cao said...

It's all about fear, basically. Fear of something that is non existent. And they change what to be afraid of from one decade to the next.

It must be depressing to be an environmentalist...

Hannah J said...

Too true, Cao. As Christians, though, we don't have to be morbidly afraid ( or even just afraid) of anything.