Global Warning?

A recent article on Yahoo! collates a number of pieces of anecdotal evidence of species of fish, birds and locusts being found further north than usual. Scientifically speaking this kind of evidence cannot be directly linked to global warming, but it’s a possible warning sign. Just like if you see animals cowering outdoors or seeking shelter, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a thunderstorm, but quite often a storm will follow. You cannot state – scientifically – that animal behaviour either causes or predicts thunderstorms.

Some rather more scientific evidence based around the global temperature record seems to point more convincingly towards a small rise in temperatures, between 0.4 and 0.6° celsius. This evidence shows a warming trend, but fluctuations in temperatures of the Earth have happened in cycles for millenia and some people openly state that this fact is often ignored.

Fred Singer, a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton says the following :

[...] observations show that sea level has risen in the last 18,000 years by about 400 feet and is continuing to rise at a uniform rate, and is not accelerating, irrespective of warming or cooling.

The strongest scientific facts I could find are here, from which I quote :

Climate change is controlled primarily by cyclical eccentricities in Earth’s rotation and orbit, as well as variations in the sun’s energy output.

On one hand, the press seems to pick up on many anecdotes as pointers to global warming. Fear and doubt sells newspapers. On the other, scientists and long term records show that we are part of inevitable warming and cooling cycles which are beyond the control of humans. However, this does not mean that we should allow gratuitous pollution to continue, because other more serious effects of releasing noxious gases into the atmosphere are a public health concern of a different kind – notably a prevalence of asthma and other breathing problems in industrial regions.

Do not confuse climate models which predict warming with rather more widely accepted research about ozone depletion which causes more harmful ultraviolet radiation to strike the Earth, and caused a widespread reduction in the use of CFCs.

Perhaps you disagree with me, but I’m afraid for the moment I’d have to say I would rather play cautiously and reduce CO2 emissions for a number of other reasons than an imprecise fear of global warming. Carbon based fuels will not last forever at current consumption levels. A lot of fuel is wastefully burned in inefficient ways – especially in large engined motor cars. This waste worries me far more than a fear of possible global warming. Science should allow us to be increasingly abstemious with resources, and yet with industrial and scientific progress waste seems to increase!

Perhaps controversially, I might give the last word to Fred Singer, who says :

[...] there are many more important problems in the world to worry about, such as diseases, pandemics, nuclear war and terrorism. The least important of these is global warming produced by humans, because it will be insignificant compared to natural fluctuations of climate.

Comments are closed.