Items of Interest for Contrarians

August 30, 2011 0 Comments

A few months ago I posted a blog entry questioning if the state of the atmosphere and earth is as bad as promoted in some media and government outlets. The answer seemed to be that there are plenty of problems (even serious problems) but that it wasn’t as apocalyptic as the headlines sometimes portray.

Since it is often good to review “common knowledge”, verify previous research, and get a different viewpoint, here are some other items of interest that run a little contrary to previously held knowledge:

1. For a while now it has been reported that droughts and famines will become much more of a problem in a potentially warmer world in the future. One of the studies used to come to this conclusion was found to be flawed. A re-analysis of plant productivity trends found no statistically significant trends for over 85% of the vegetated surface of the earth. If droughts and floods become more extreme in the future, there will no doubt be negative effects on the food supply, but for the time being, it isn’t as bad as originally thought.

2. In contrast to the gradual increase of sea levels over the last couple of decades, the level actually fell last year – by quite a bit. It appears that the transition from El Nino to La Nina and copious amounts of rainfall in Brazil and Australia caused most of the significant drop in global sea-level. Even though this trend is counter to what has been expected from year-to-year due to anthropogenic global warming (AGW), it is not too likely it will continue to go down. If the global temperature goes up over coming decades then more of the ice caps will melt and it is not likely that any amount of rain over land will reduce the higher levels of the ocean.

3. In AGW research, there has been an awakening of sorts. A few years ago researchers at the National Polytechnic Institute of the Ukraine suggested that cosmic rays could be having a larger influence on the global temperature than previously thought. Vitaly Rusov and his colleagues were roundly criticized and mocked for this theory. Even after lab results clearly showed that cloud droplets were affected by cosmic rays, any link to global warming was almost completely dismissed. There were also some follow up statistical studies that did not show a strong link between climate warming/cooling and the flux of cosmic rays. Then a funny thing happened. The more people looked at the theory, the more it looked as if cosmic rays might play a small but quantifiable part in the global temperature scheme. Now even more research has confirmed that cosmic rays can change aeresol (cloud particle) production in the atmosphere. The most recent confirmation comes from CERN in Switzerland. I am still unconvinced that cosmic rays play a major role in the climate, but it seems it should be studied further and be considered as a part (albeit quite small) of future climate modelling.

4. On the subject of past mocking and ridicule, I am unsure if the backers of Peak Oil theory can be matched when speaking about the abiogenisis theory of oil formation. People who promoted the abiogenesis theory were trashed in many an online forum, mainly by Peak Oil theorists. It was fossil fuel theory or nothing. We were running out of oil in the late 1990s, 2005, 2008, 2010, sometime in the near future, because all the fossil fuel on the planet was created in a short period of time hundreds of millions of years ago, we know how much is left, and it is not much! Thankfully some people continued to think seriously about how carbon and hydrogen get into the earth’s mantle and what happens in the heat and pressure. Now more substantial research is going into the abiogenesis theory.

I have no doubt that we are reaching the limits of fossil fuel production with our current technology, but I don’t think we are headed back to the stone age anytime soon. Whether or not there is some new hydrocarbon fuel being created within the earth at this very moment, we should be focusing on cleaner more stable energy sources for the future. If you doubt that we might be polluting too much, negatively affecting the environment, or not using too much fossil fuel, just take a look at this little animation of the earth demonstrating the areas where humans have essentially taken over. Hint, it is the vast majority of the land surface.

Have a fine Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.

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