TCS Daily

My Global Warming Question

By Arnold Kling - December 21, 2007 12:00 AM

"The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces for 2007 is expected to be near 58.0°F and would be the fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Some of the largest and most widespread warm anomalies occurred from eastern Europe to central Asia.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of approximately 10 percent per decade since 1979."
--National Climactic Data Center, Preliminary Annual Report

I am worried about climate change. In one respect, I may be more worried than other people. I am worried because I have very little confidence that we know what is causing it. One of my fears is that we could reduce carbon emissions by some drastic amount, only to discover that--oops--it turns out that climate change is being caused by something else.

I am not a skeptic about the rise in average temperatures. Nor am I skeptical that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing. However, I remain skeptical about the connection between the two.

My question is this:

what are the most persuasive reasons for believing that the rise in temperature is due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide?

What I am looking for is evidence that I can use to overcome my skepticism. My view of climate change is that we have about three data points--an increase in temperatures from 1900-1940, and slight decrease from 1940-1970, and a recent increase. There are a lot of variables that could affect climate, and I wonder how we can be confident about our understanding of the process, given that we have only those three data points to work with.

I certainly am open to an argument that we have more data points to work with. I am just trying to explain where I am coming from.

Other Scientific Propositions

It seems to me that with other scientific propositions, I do not rely on a scientific consensus for proof. I am persuaded by other evidence. For example, I do not have a deep comprehension of the relationship between matter and energy. However, I find the atomic bomb a reasonably persuasive piece of evidence that Einstein was onto something.

In economics, many of us believe that economic institutions matter. We believe that prosperity is more likely in societies with systems that protect private property, encourage trade, and so forth. We do not know exactly which systems work best, a point which I made in Cracking the Code of Prosperity and which Dani Rodrik makes in his book, One Economics, Many Recipes. But many of us believe that institutions are a major factor.

If I were asked to supply the most persuasive reasons for believing that institutions matter in economics, I would site the following:

1. East Germany's decline relative to West Germany under Communism. For example, Japp Sleifer writes,

"Before the Second World War the East German economy had the signs of a blossoming landscape. At that time per capita national income amounted to 103 per cent of West Germany, compared to a mere 31 per cent in 1991. In the industrial sector labour productivity dropped from 91 per cent of the West German level in 1936 to merely 31 per cent in 1991. East Germany is a case of an economy that was relatively wealthy, but lost out in relatively short time."

A similar point could be made about North and South Korea. In both German and the Korean cases, a reasonably homogeneous society was split in two, with one half adopting a Communist system of central planning and the other half adopting a more market-oriented system. The outcome was that economic performance was better in the market-oriented system.

2. Workers in low-income countries can increase their wages dramatically by moving to high-income countries. See Lant Pritchett's book, Let My People Come. If it were simply a matter of American firms preferring low-wage Mexican workers to high-wage American workers, capital would be flowing across the border to Mexico. However, the same capital and labor is much more productive here than there, and this likely reflects better institutions in the United States.

3. Economic liberalizations tend to increase growth. We have seen this in China, in India, and under Margaret Thatcher in the UK. However, the evidence is not overwhelming. Skeptics point out that the liberalization in India was not particularly dramatic. Indeed the more dramatic liberalizations in some Latin American countries and in post-Communist Russia were not very effective.

Overall, the evidence that institutions matter is not as devastating, so to speak, as the atomic bomb. Still it is evidence, and I am willing to present the evidence and let individuals make up their own minds.


Recently, New York Times columnists David Leonhardt dubbed Shannon Brownlee's Overtreated the best economics book of 2007. I also spoke highly of it in my list of the year's best books and in a longer review.

A major thesis of Brownlee's book is that Americans undergo a large number of unnecessary medical procedures. I agree with this thesis. Evidence in its favor includes:

1. Studies by Dartmouth economist Jack Wennberg and colleagues showing that there is wide variation in intensity of the use of procedures across Medicare regions, with no difference in outcomes.

2. The RAND health insurance experiment gave similar patients different levels of health insurance coverage. Those who had more coverage elected to undergo more procedures--with little difference in outcomes.

3. Recently, economist Amy Finkelstein studied the impact of Medicare on health spending. She found a large effect on spending--but little effect on outcomes.

Change my Mind

Health care is an issue on which I have changed my mind. Before I began working on my book, my inclination was to believe that at some point we will see America's extravagant health care spending translated into better outcomes. Now, I have my doubts. I suspect that a lot of procedures are done for institutional and emotional reasons, without tangible medical benefits.

I am willing to change my mind about the role of carbon emissions in causing global warming. However, I would like to know what evidence other people find most persuasive. I would like to assess this evidence, given what I know about statistics and modeling. Feel free to leave your argument in comments, emails, or blog posts--use "Arnold Kling" in your post and my ego-surfing will pick it up. I assume that one of the reasons that people believe the carbon emissions story is that the evidence for alternatives is fairly weak. However, if someone thinks that he or she has good evidence for an alternative, feel free to let me know.



I have been waiting for such evidence, also.

Basic science
Arnold, you might want to stick with a subject you know a little more about-- like economics. The very way you put your first question reveals how little familiarity you enjoy with the subject:

"what are the most persuasive reasons for believing that the rise in temperature is due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide?"

There IS no sole cause. There are half a dozen main factors in climate change, most of them giving us a net warming and some (sulfate aerosols, for example) having a net cooling effect. Balance all these forces through vector analysis and we are rapidly warming.

The rapid rise in greenhouse gases is merely the largest contributor to this effect. And if you don't "believe" it could be so, I would suggest you go back to read the work of Svante Arrhenius, now a century old. Greenhouse gases can't help but warm the atmosphere; according to the basic laws of physics they have no other option.

All else ("natural causes") being the same, to the degree that we limit our emissions of these greenhouse gases we will experience a lesser degree of warming in the years to come.

We already know the anwer
Of all the thousands of compounds in the air, plus the solar effect, the reds-turned-greens have focused on only CO2, because it's the one thing that would ruin (only western)economies, so they can blame it on capitalism, and then carry on the effort to socialism. So now they have two fronts; one is the struggle for more nanny state welfarism, and now this hidden agenda of enviro-fasscism.

Not so basic
The only part of the science that is basic, is the fact that CO2 is a weak GHG. Everything beyond that is hideously complex.

Regarding aerosols, it's always been assumed that aerosols cause a net cooling affect. Funny thing. When they stoped making assumptions and actually went to the field and started doing experiments, they found that on net, aerosols caused warming. Add to this the fact that we have very little idea how many aerosols have been added the atmosphere, where they were added and how long they stay in the atmosphere.

It was also always assumed that a warmer atmosphere would cause more water to be evaporated. Then they stopped making assumptions and started looking. They found that this assumption was wrong. In fact a warmer atmosphere could be a dryer atmosphere.

As to limiting CO2 emmissions causing less warming. Why anyone should be concerned about it warming 0.05C instead of 0.1C, I don't know.

Unless they are like you and just assume that anything man does is evil.

And you might want to take your own advice about subject matter...

While you are correct that there is no sole cause, "the rapid rise in greenhouse gases" is not the main reason we're seeing warming--or not, because even those data aren't conclusive one way or another.

I have read the "work" or Arrhenius, and he used a very bad analogy to describe the "effect" of carbon dioxide. Essentially, Arrhenius walked into a greenhouse, noted increased CO2 in the greenhouse, and said "The CO2 is why the greenhouse is warm." That's a logical fallacy, like saying ice cream sales cause drowning deaths. It's the thermal barrier of the greenhouse's glass, and a lack of mixing with outside air, that creates the increase in temperature inside the greenhouse, not CO2. If you leave a greenhouse door open too long, all the heat escapes due to mixing, and you're back at atmospheric temperature--CO2 difference or not. This has been known since shortly after Arrhenius wrote his supposition, which was why it was widely discounted until recently.

It's easy to replicate Arrhenius' observations today--leave your car out in the sun on a cold but sunny day (with the windows rolled up) and see how much the temperature inside and outside are different after a few hours. (It can be +20-30 degrees F!) That has nothing to do with CO2. If you increase the CO2 in the car, you won't be able to measure the difference.

Here's the main problem with extending this (bad) analogy to the atmosphere--we don't have a thermal barrier like greenhouse glass to keep heat in. We know CO2 doesn't have any impact on a greenhouse's temperature from decades of experience, so why would it have much effect on our atmosphere? (At most, the CO2 is plant food, because it is a limiting ecosystem nutrient.) Considering that 95+% of CO2 "emissions" are "natural," there's not much we could do anyway.

What's out there that DOES cause some heating, or at least moderating of temperature? How about clouds? A clear day or night has much higher daytime temperatures and much lower nighttime temperatures than a cloudy day or night. (Your local weatherman can easily tell you that--and you can observe it yourself.) High humidity tends to hold temperatures up (same sources). Both of those take water vapor, which is 10 times more prominent in the atmosphere than CO2. Water vapor also reflects many more wavelengths of infrared radiation than CO2, making it a more effecetive insulator (my 8th grade science project, and another thing that has been known for a long, long time). Also, while clouds reflect heat, they also (apparently) store it somehow, although we don't really know how. That's a negative feed back, not a positive one--maybe--but we don't know the magnitude of it. The "SimEarth"-type computer models used to model climate can't really show the effect of clouds because we still don't understand them. That makes the accuracy of these computer models highly suspect.

Most of life on the surface of the Earth is solar powered, either directly or indirectly through the food chain, so the sun and its radiation are critically important. A little change (from the sun's perspective) could have a big effect on us. The sun isn't constant, either--like most other stars, it has changed brightness over the centuries, and sunspots might play a role in warming (more spots=more warming). Right now, there aren't very many sunspots--just like during the Maunder Minimum. (Hmmm...)

(Then there's the little problem of CO2 increases LAGGING temperature increases by a few hundred years, but let's not get too far down this road. The data are still somewhat sketchy on this, at least from what I can tell. We could also talk about the misconduct and outright fraud in climate science, but let's not go there, either.)

So, yes, there are many causes, but CO2 looks like a very minor player--if it matters at all. After all, CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere. What's the other 99.6% doing? (It isn't nothing...)

For more, check out, or find some writings by Roy Spencer (here in the TCS archives) or William Gray (the hurricane guy). They know a whole lot more about it than I do, especially the nots and bolts parts of the analysis. They think this whole thing is junk science. I think they may well be correct, and CO2 emission control may be both expensive and ineffective.

Getting the facts straight is difficult
It would really help this important discussion if we could just get past the denier/liar exchanges. These charges / counter chages just cloud the discussion.
What I fear most is that we don't have all the facts and don't fully understand the mechanics. For example, just suppose this rapid warming we are experiencing is a runner up to a major shift to a much colder climate - i.e. a real true ice-age. If so, we might want as much co2 as possible in that atmosphere to retain whatever heat we have left. Is the action we are trying to take now (reducing co2 emissions) going to make a bad problem worse later?
I think Mr. Kling asks the right questions. What we need now is the right answers.

Coming out of Ice Age
You say: "I am not a skeptic about the rise in average temperatures. Nor am I skeptical that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing."

Ask yourself: "Am I also not skeptical that the earth is coming out of an ice age as it has done numerous times in its history, and without the aid of Anthropogenic CO2?"

What's happening that makes the earth give up (melt) it's ice?

Temperature follows Carbon Dioxide Levels
Based on ice-core samplings, there is a strong suggestion that there is a correlation between CO2 levels in the troposhere and temperature, going back some 460,000 years. (Oldest ice core sample in 1999). Agreed, there is no definitive causal relationship yet found, but charting carbon dioxide levels (which have exceeded our current levels at times) and temperatures shows a remarkable correspondence. I think that it is more than consensus science to assume that there is a link between the two.

It's the Sun
Just look at the correlation between Co2 and temperature and then check the correlation between solar cycle length to temperature.It can be found in this paper by Jaworowski for your convenience:
The solar cycle not only involves sunspots, it also includes changes in magnetic output and its effect on cosmic rays from far off supernovae. The latter is suspected to increase cloud cover by causing water to form on the cosmic ray particles. Low clouds cause cooling as opposed to aerosols which now appear to cause warming.Just thought I'd throw that in.

Also, if you want proof AGW has been falsified, since 1998 there has been no increase in the global temperature. Nada, nil, none! CO2 has increased by 4%, After 9 years you'd think that credibility would be waning. It is but don't ask the UN.

The first time CO2 induced global warming was tried as a hype was in 1895. When the runaway warming failed to materialize the idea lost support. I don't think it took them 10 years to figure out it was an attack on the coal miners in the UK. Margaret Thatcher is said to have revived the idea to get back at the Labor party for her defeat in 1972 and to damage the economy of the USA with a cap and trade system that some in Washington would like to do voluntarily. By the way, she founded the Hadley Center to support her AGW idea which has become part of the UN's IPCC. What a coincidence!

The UN didn't even buy carbon offsets for the Bali conference because they don't trust the system they profess to support after 10 years of activity. When the pushers don't use their product, don't be a dope and buy their phony line. Read the ISPM (65 pages). It comes from the same scientific data the IPCC used, by some of the same reviewers, and they came up with an entirely different conclusion without the input of governments to effect a bias.

Global Warming
I have attented 3 lectures on Global Warming this year and read a significant amount of the peer reviewed literature.
At each of the lectures I have asked the folloing question and stopped the presentor dead in his tracks.

Question: If you beleive 1. we are having Global Warming not just normal fluctuations in our world climate, 2.that man is the primary cause, and 3. that it is due to mans production of CO2 you should be on the next plane to Boston. There is a Prof of Climatology and Meteorolgy at a small University that does some fairly good science called MIT. Dr Lindzer is the Alfred P. Sloan endowed Chairman of the Dept of Climetology and Meteorology at MIT. He has had a bet on the table for the last 10 years for $10,000 if you can prove the 3 main points of your lecture to him and a group of MIT Scientists.

Lets assume for the moment that we are having Global Warming and it is primarily due to CO2 increases in our atmosphere. There are two ways of solving this problem if it is a problem.

1. Have 190 countries destroy their economies or their economies future if you are a developing nation by no longer using sources of energy that produce CO2. This will reduce the retention of heat from the Sun if the theory on Greenhouse gases is correct.

In the history of our world there has never been a major world problem solved due to the cooperation of all countries.

2. You could reduce the amount of energy from the Sun that penetrates our upper atmosphere if and when it is needed. This is based on some well established science from the study of volcanic eruptions. All we need to do is to send
several NASA rockets up to the upper atmosphere to distribute particulate matter like sulfur that will reflect some of the light and energy from the sun. This would need to be done carefully so we don't reflect excessive amount of the suns energy or the NY Times will
blame us for the next Ice Age.

The direct cost and the indirect cost to the world economy is several trillion $$'s for solution 1. and would be only a few billion $$'s for solution 2.

There have been articles in both the NY Times and WSJ in the last 2 months from different scientists for solution 2.

The added benefit of 2 is it isn't depentent on 50 -100 year predictions about climate from the UN that have been wrong each time so far on a year by year basis.

Another benefit is we will have the needed time to develop alternate sources of energy and make a smooth transifion from coal and oil to these new sources without destroying our economy.

What we know
"The only part of the science that is basic, is the fact that CO2 is a weak GHG. Everything beyond that is hideously complex."

Maybe so. But we do know these things:

* We live in an age alternating between glacial and interglacial periods. Before man's technology altered the picture, the flux between these poles was 200-280 ppm atm CO2.

* When atm CO2 rises above 500 ppm the world is radically different than our own.

* The CO2 content is now 380 ppm, and rising rapidly.

But you're assuring me there is no cause for concern.

160 million years
So oil formed from the carbon that was deposited in sediments over around 160 million years, right? World estimates are somewhere around 3 trillion barrels, we have almost burned half of that, most of it in a 50 year period.

Wow, how could burning half of 160 million years of carbon in less than 100 years affect anything?

ah no
Co2 levels follow warming. The causational relationship you are looking for is that warmer temperatures reduce the absorption and storage of CO2 in the oceans, perma-frost, etc. As the temperature rises these are released into the atmosphere. As temperature cools, CO2 is absorbed back into these sinks and CO2 declines.

In very simplistic form, there is your relationship.

It's the Sun
The science involved all points directly and persuasively to the Sun as the primary driver of climate and climate variability on planet Earth. There is so much information on this topic that it is impossible to link to it all, but there are several main points. One is solar output models based upon observed solar cycles, and their correlation to past climate. A good example of this type of research is here:
and here:

A more recent hypothesis about the linkage mechanism is the cosmic ray theory, which is gaining observational and experimental confirmation recently. The book "The Chilling Stars" by Henrik Svensmark explains this theory.

Though the case for CO2 as the primary driver of the late 20th century warming was never at all persuasive to me, like you, I didn't question the fact of the CO2 increase. Now it appears that even that may have been faked, similarly to the infamous "hockey stick" graph of temperature. Information is here:

Finally, though temperature did rise in the late 20th century, we have been in a temperature decline since 1998. The solar predictions that look most correct to me indicate that we are entering a period of low solar activity which will bottom in ~2030. Solar cycle 24 is already late, which supports this projection. More information is here:
with an update here:
And you can follow Solar Cycle 24 here as it unfolds:

As of today, Dec 21 2007, we have yet to see the first sunspot of the new cycle, which means the low of this cycle is most likely at least a year away still. Break out your down jacket.

But lets face it, Global Warming was never about the science, it was always first and foremost about the politics. It is a convenient vehicle for promotion of the left wing agenda, nothing more. Over the next years as the cooling trend becomes too obvious to ignore, they will find a new vehicle to justify stopping growth and destroying Western Civilization.

A more reliable source
Where you're going off the tracks is that the "greenhouse" is an analogy. What GHG gases do are like what the glass enclosing a greenhouse does. It contains heat transfer.

The experiment has been performed many times. Simply add CO2, and the air inside the greenhouse retains more heat. There is no serious body of opinion that doubts this. And of those who might, it remains for them to demonstrate their case through experiment.

"So, yes, there are many causes, but CO2 looks like a very minor player--if it matters at all. After all, CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere. What's the other 99.6% doing? (It isn't nothing...)"

If the inert portion of the atmosphere isn't changing, how can it be responsible for change? If you want to find the roots of change, look to what has changed. Have you really never thought of this?

(And your slide rule needs an overhaul. 0.4% is 4,000 ppm. The current value is not quite a tenth of that.)

I'm very familiar with climatescience, co2science and Roy Spencer. They make a living searching for and selectively presenting information that may give a one sided picture of the causes of global warming.

If you're actually interested in a more balanced view, try beginning your search with the EPA web site:

"For well-mixed greenhouse gases, mathematical equations are used to compute radiative forcing based on changes in their concentration relative to 1750 (or 1990 for NOAA's AGGI) and the known radiative properties of the gases. Confidence in these calculations is high due to reliable current and historic concentration data and well-established physics."

bad line of thinking
Oil is only a single form of carbon deposits out there; in fact coal and oil combined are only a fraction of a percentage of the total carbon sequestered; which is only a fraction of the total carbon cycle.
So we've burned 1/1,000th of 1/1,000th of the 160 million years of carbon in less than 100 years. And that is a big deal because?

The reason your car gets hot or a greenhouse gets hot has nothing to do with CO2. Its the glass.

Glass cuts off at about 2.5 um. The SWIR warms the interior which radiates at longer IR, which won't tranmit throught the glass.

As for CO2, it has significant absorption bands, but not nearly as significant as water. The amount of energy absorbed by CO2 compared to water is very insignificant.

It's always been about socialism and power
Ever since the Limits to Growth and the ice age scare in the 70s, the luddites have been trying to find excuses to take over the economies of the world.

My evidence is that all their solutions involve the use of government force, higher taxes more government control.

If they were really serious about solving or mitigating the problem, they would be promoting technology and innovation to improvise, adapt and overcome any adversity.

Hahahahaha The EPA unbiased?
Oh com eon Roy. Spencer is a dubious source and biased but the EPA is not?

Oh I am falling over laughing.

It ain't gunna happen.
Who limiting their emissions, the US? In fact, our CO2 output has stabilized, even declined slightly while the EU and the Kyoto socialists have increased.

Nobody is advocating they participate. Additionally, I see no rush to technical solutions, not quite the contrary, the solutions bantered about are huge global taxes and redistribution of wealth all of which produce nothing.
There MAY be some warming caused by man, I doubt it myself, but nobody is proposing any solutions short of world socialism and there I draw the line.

In addition Roy, prove to me it is bad that the Earth warms slightly? Will not plant growth accelerate? Will no this lead to more lush forests? Will not this counteract the CO2?

It is always gloom and doom unless we drasticaly raise taxes and lower our standard of living. Sort of reminds me of Carter telling us how we all have to do without.

You liberals have cried wolf once to many times.

Look at the proposals
All the proposals to "fix" it are taxes and global wealth redistribution.

If they were serious they would be looking to technology, not taxes.

Arnold Kling's Skepticism Re. CO2
There is good evidence that human life is responsible for only a small fraction of the CO2 in the atmosphere (most of it coming from brush fires, bogs and volcanoes).

There is good evidence that CO2 is a minor factor in the greenhouse effect in Earth heating (H2O is the most significant gas in solar radiation interaction by far--it predominates the greenhouse effect).

There is good evidence that the greenhouse effect plays a minor role in establishing the Earth's mean temperature (the Sun is primary determinant with scattering due to clouds and other particulate matter in the atmosphere coming next -- clouds overwhelm the puny greenhouse effect).

There is good evidence the Sun is is instrumental in cloud formation (solar activity modulates cosmic ray flux which nucleates water vapor condensation).

So its the Sun anyway you look at it. The Earth's overall climate history would go on virtually unaffected if the environmental zealots had their way and all us humans disappeared taking our dreaded industrial revolution and market economy along with us.

Reserve your skepticism for the government's high-paid climate modelers, their exhorbitant computer programs and their deceptively self-serving numerical results.

amount of co2 in atmosphere overstated in roy-bean post by a factor of 10
Besides the recent significant scientific papers by Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, Evans, McKitrick, Michaels, Clark and more which point to the fact that models are not only highly inaccurate and fail to account of many climate factors properly making them essentially worthless and the other significant scientific papers by Svensmark, Chritensen and others that point to other reasons for climate fluctuations and natural variability than co2, the amount of co2 in the atmosphere is NOT 0.4 percent as stated by believer Roy_Bean, it is .04 percent or in true math terms 0.000383 of the atmosphere or in terms of parts per million, 383 parts per million and currently growing at the rate of about 1.3 ppm per year and that rate of increase appears to be slowing notwithstanding our continued greater use of the combustion of fossil fuels. That should make everyone worry? NOT.

I have a problem with the entire premise of this article
"The global annual temperature for combined land and ocean surfaces for 2007 is expected to be near 58.0°F and would be the fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Some of the largest and most widespread warm anomalies occurred from eastern Europe to central Asia."

Probably not, but time will tell as the preliminary report is finalized and the glitches fixed.

"Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997."

This has been completely and fully debunked. I'm surprised anyone even tries to spout this rhetoric anymore.

"The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend."

Mostly true, but the rate of increase arguement is just that; unproven arguement. True if you are looking just at the 20th century model, but not "unnatural" if you consider other data from past warming and cooling trends."

"The greatest warming has taken place in high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Anomalous warmth in 2007 contributed to the lowest Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979, surpassing the previous record low set in 2005 by a remarkable 23 percent. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this is part of a continuing trend in end-of-summer Arctic sea ice extent reductions of approximately 10 percent per decade since 1979."

True and verifiable, but newly released data shows the level isn't even unusual in the 20th century.

All-in-all, I do not accept these to be "facts", therefore I have to question some of the other points in the article. Still, points about CO2 as a driver and the concerns raised over that issue are valid; even if you accept the rest as "fact".

In that light, it is a good article and an interesting read.

what roy knows, is rarely accurate
1) The CO2 value has ranged from a low of 200ppm, to a high of several thousand ppm.

2) The earth was much more verdant and productive when CO2 values were high.

3) If CO2 causes the earth to warm up by a few more tenths of a degree, it won't be a problem. Meanwhile we get to enjoy the benefits of more CO2.

A dense haze
You're just having trouble reading, that's all.

I said "Where you're going off the tracks is that the "greenhouse" is an analogy. What GHG gases do are like what the glass enclosing a greenhouse does. It contains heat transfer."

And you responded "The reason your car gets hot or a greenhouse gets hot has nothing to do with CO2. Its the glass."

You must not be familiar with analogies. Greenhouse gases behave LIKE the glass in a greenhouse. They are not glass.

As for water, the amount of water in the system has not changed measurably on a global scale. However the amount of CO2 has.

what roy knows, vs. reality
Adding CO2 to a greenhouse has absolutely no effect on the temperature of a greenhouse. CO2 is added to greenhouses in order to fertilize the plants.

Regarding Spencer. He has works that both support and refute AGW. You just don't like any site that doesn't pay lip service to the claim that there is no science against AGW.

Regardless. Whether a paper is true or false is not affected by the positions of the person presenting it.

I notice that you don't even try to refute the papers.

We both know it's because you can't.

Where does all the money go?
I was just wondering last night as I heard another (silly) story about someone contributing money as carbon credits for a flight they took? So who gets that money and how the heck does it help anything at all?


I am a sceptic regarding the size of the recent warming
The data is so badly polluted, we don't know what the earth's temperature is within 5C. Much less the few tenths claimed by the AGWers.

Is everyone here crazy but me?
Here's what some anonymous poster wrote me, above:

"So, yes, there are many causes, but CO2 looks like a very minor player--if it matters at all. After all, CO2 is 0.4% of the atmosphere. What's the other 99.6% doing? (It isn't nothing...)"

And here's what I wrote in response:

"(And your slide rule needs an overhaul. 0.4% is 4,000 ppm. The current value is not quite a tenth of that.)"

So as you can see, I am not maintaining that the amount in question is 0.4 percent, but rather the same figure you give as the correct one: approx 380 ppm.

I'm the real roy_bean. The other fellow is called (...)

more likely the reverse

The rate of increase doesn't appear to be slowing
Here's the trend:

Does this show any sign of levelling off?

NASA studies
A recent paper released by NASA (two or three weeks ago) found that the recent melting of arcit ice was almost entirely due to cyclic factors, mostly changing wind patterns.

Both are partly right...
...and partly wrong. There is a correlation between GHG concentrations and temperature. But it can go either way.

In every warming phase of the recent ice ages, natural forces have compelled warming. As a consequence, some time later greenhouse gases have increased. Which has created the feedback effect of further raising temps.

This time around it's the GHGs that have increased first. And temperatures are following.

No Subject
Yeah, I wasn't saying that half of 160 million years of total carbon has been released into the atmosphere. I was just focusing on oil and thought that was clear. I still maintain though that it is still a substantial amount and, as you say, a big deal.
Even if you don't buy into global warming, oil is finite and we need to get off the teat.

I'm a fan of GW ...
... that is, both of the President and of the natural phenomenon. That declaration is bound to twist some knobs, hey?

I'm not so interested in the science of GW because I know that at any given time between the past and the future, including the now, human science is 1 part evidence, 1 part theory, 1 part hypothesis, 1 part consensus belief. Set this bubbling stew-pot off against the vast remainder of the knowable universe that is unknowable, that is, "dark" to us (at last guess, around 94% thereof), and one experiences the boundless limitations confronting human science.

Given the above, let's cut to the jugular to sort out this AGW nonsense. Note that it is necessary to claim that man is the cause of AGW (hence the "A") to claim that man can cure AGW. Cut away the "A", and the whole sorry AGW house-o-cards folds like a Jack-high.

Next, introduce economics. If scarcity reigns and time runs one way, then opportunity cost dictates that jacking up the cost of energy to cut CO2 to make a purely speculative impact on a natural phenomenon not even one scientist can prove beyond a reasonable doubt is caused by man in the first place is a fool's game. Not surprisingly, the primary beneficiaries of taxpayer funds, that is governments and scientists, never saw a fool's bet they could pass up. Remember socialism? It was supposed to be able to remake man in line with the dictates of nature. Instead, it enslaved or murdered him.

Nature. How come man's not a part of it? What I've never heard explained to my satisfaction is this: If the universe is entirely material, then man is an inseparable part of nature given that man is also material. This being so, AGW and GW are indistinguishable but for the former's identification of an extra vector. If that's the point, then wouldn't the whole of nature be far better off without the anthropomorphic wart darkening its backside? Such is the necessary conclusion lying at the end of this logical path, yet Darwin tells us that natural selection prevents species prone to weaknesses such as philosophical suicide from progressing as far as ours has.

What a terrific conundrum of natural philosophies! But focusing on unraveling this conundrum is better than mindlessly dashing about in Chicken Little's panicked shadow. Hang out with philosophers, Mr. Kling, and stay away from scientists, politicians and their groupies, if you seek peace of mind as a refuge and safe harbor from the AGW scare.

No, they do not behave like glass.
Glass refelcts the energy.

CO2, H2O, methane and the rest absorb and re-radiate various spectral IR energy.

Kling's and my question.
Correlation is not causation. The proof of CO2 causing any increase in temperature is in the noise. The only way anyone can claim it is a cause is with highly uncertain computer models.

I am still waiting for the hard proof.

Ah no
The warming started in the early 19th century with emergence from the LIA. Like before, the CO2 has come after.

Some expert comments: (some consensus!)

The following are comments from some of the more than 400 scientists in a Republican report on global warming:

•"Even if the concentration of 'greenhouse gases' double, man would not perceive the temperature impact."

Oleg Sorochtin of the Institute of Oceanology at the Russian Academy of Sciences

•"I find the Doomsday picture Al Gore is painting — a six-meter sea level rise, 15 times the [U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] number — entirely without merit. ... I protest vigorously the idea that the climate reacts like a home heating system to a changed setting of the thermostat: just turn the dial, and the desired temperature will soon be reached."

Atmospheric scientist Hendrik Tennekes, former research director at the Netherlands' Royal National Meteorological Institute

•"The hypothesis that solar variability and not human activity is warming the oceans goes a long way to explain the puzzling idea that the Earth's surface may be warming while the atmosphere is not. The [greenhouse-gas] hypothesis does not do this. ... The public is not well served by this constant drumbeat of false alarms fed by computer models manipulated by advocates."

David Wojick, expert reviewer for U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"

Partial answer: see Inconvenient Truth
Dr. Kling,

Funny you should mention this... I saw the Inconvenient Truth recently and it made me wonder about the same thing. One of Al Gore's main showpieces is the chart where trends in temperature and CO2 concentration are graphed along the same time axis over many thousands of years. If you look closely at the curves, you'll see that the changes in CO2 follow the changes in temperature. This observation is the exact opposite of the theory Al Gore is trying to prove. As it turns out, this is one of the important objections to the idea of man-made global warming caused by GHG emissions.

I don't mean to sound smug, but it's amazing how this has been missed by the millions who saw the film. We're definitely due for a Naked Emperor moment.

No actually it is only a tiny fraction
Most of the world's carbon dioxide inventory, more than 90 per cent, is locked up in limestone. That's what limestone, all of it, really is, solidified CO2.

The politics of motivation...
It has been said that people are only motivated by the urgency of disaster.

We all know that air, water and soil pollution due to industrial operations and untidy human households are bad...but we also know that the impact of each individual act of polluting is difficult to measure.

In order to make people actually stop polluting, therefore, a shift in social ethics must be deployed with universal reach...almost as a global religion...embracing a fresh morality that reaches into every fiber of our secular fabric.

In order to manage the behavior of one and all, regarding pollution, something simple, demonstrable and obvious to everyone must be declared to be the direct effect of our most innocent and unavoidable actions...breathing out and striking a match.

If the generation of carbon actually dangerous, then any act of air, water or soil pollution must be unthinkably wrong...and people will automatically stop doing those things.

They are all in on this...and it is starting to work.

Can you imagine our guilt lighting a cigarette...or that we should be so concerned regarding the methane produced by dairy cows...this might stop us from serving milk to our babies?

The nuns told us that even so much as "thinking about sex" was a mortal sin...equivalent to murdering the Pope...remember that?

Carbon dioxide alone should not upset us...plants thrive on the makes green things grow!

But if we can argue that it is a significant greenhouse gas...and if the climate of the Earth is actually heating up...then we can declare a cause and effect relationship, our moral argument is made and all acts of pollution, however innocent, are damned.

Previously, (and not so very long ago) we actually thought we were measuring that the climate of the Earth was cooling down. Instead of a green-house effect we proposed that particulate in the air was blocking out the warmth of the sun...and, again, pollution was going to kill us all due to climate change. Europe would drop into an Ice Age...all that.

The point is that the climate will certainly change. One way or the other. It always has. There are too many variable forces at play for the climate of the Earth to remain constant.

No matter which way the climate changes we can make an argument that undesirable, reckless human behavior is responsible.

Everyone knows that pollution is a bad thing...however we are not sure exactly why. We should simply all want to stop it...but we have not been very good at convincing individuals to change their behavior.

So this is what that is about. It is a lie of the sort we have been trained to believing from the time they first told us that we "better watch out...we better not (one thing or the other)...I'm telling you why...Santa Claus is coming to town"...and we will get a lump of coal in our stockings...

Of course, we were bad...but we tried to be careful not get caught. And we did get our presents on Christmas we believed in Santa Claus for a time...and then we moved lie to our own children.

Merry Christmas, boys and girls.

For another
read The Sceptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg

or consult the technical papers at

What you will find, Arnold, is that according to the economic experts, even if the AGW theory is correct, it's still not worth taking any action other than "no regrets".

Woland, it's been missed by the millions, but it certainly hasn't been missed by the so-called experts. They've been anxiously trying to argue their way around the lag, in an attempt to show that this time CO2 preceded the warming.

An even bigger problem for them is that all of the proxies used to measure temperature in the past show no warming whatsoever in the 20th C. Now why is it do you suppose that what was good enough to measure temperature with in the 16th C is suddenly invalid for the 20th? Ahh, confounding factors Mann reply. Balderdash say the sceptics, your supposed proxies simply don't prove what you want them to prove. This is the famous so-called data gap and is an equally glaring hole in AGW theory.

Don't forget long term climate cycles
I agree that the Sun is an important player in climate change, but we should also include the role of various long term climate cycles.

Most people have heard of El Nino, but there are other longer duration cycles that play a significant role in climate.

One of note is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

A good web site concerning that particular phenomena is here.

It is interesting to note that the two major warming periods in the 20th century are both during positive phases of the NAO and the post WWII cooling corresponds to a negative phase.

In addition, the transition from the 1970's cooling to the subsequent warming period matches almost exactly with the shift from a negative to a positive phase.

There are other multidecadal climate cycles, the Arctic Oscillation ( ) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation ( ) both of which show a similar pattern to the NAO.

Now since CO2 concentration was rising steadily throughout the 20th century, it is difficult to see how an increase would cause the phase shifts that occurred.

And of course, let's not forget the biggest cycle of them all, the Little Ice Age (LIA).

The LIA was a period of much colder than typical temperatures and that ended sometime in the mid to late 1800's. How much of the temperature change experienced since then is due to the Earth simply warming up from the cooler period?

That also happens to be the time when temperature recording were first started.

Suppose that you started recording temperatures in January of some year and noted that as the days progressed, there was trend of increasing temperatures and that in August you were setting record temperatures for your data set.

What would you conclude from that?

Of course most of us are familiar with the yearly cycle of the seasons and so wouldn't be surprised at all.

But the cycles pointed out above take decades to run their full course, so how many of them has the average person seen? More importantly, how well can they recognize a trend over that time frame?

It benefits the GE stockholders
They make most of the compact florescent light bulbs and lots of alternative energy technologies that only will make money if the government mandates them.

Global warming is caused by ...
Global warming is caused by exhaling on a thermometer.

Exhaling, especially by blow hards, gives off CO2 and heat.

Eliminate the exhaling, especially by blow hards, and both the CO2 and heat will be reduced.

Ice cores in Greenland show that there were two periods in the last Millennium than now. One was during the early Viking settlements during which time Greenland was a net exporter of agricultural products. I think we need more global warming.

suggestions about global-warming hypotheses for Arnold Kling
Dr. Kling,
You may already be well aware of this, but I want to alert you to the existence of a global-climate-change hypothesis that I find extremely interesting. I'm not an atmospheric scientist, but I am a veteran science writer who's been following this area for a while, and I'm intrigued by the notion -- best described in a book called "The Chilling Stars" co-authored by a Danish scientist and the former editor-in-chief of New Scientist magazine -- that a) one of the most robust determinants of global temperature is cloud cover (percentage of Earth's surface occluded by clouds) -- by day, clouds reflect heat from above, which more than cancels their nightly absorption of Earth-sourced infrared, so more clouds means lower global temperatures; b) clouds don't spring to life spontaneously, but must be "seeded" by e.g., ions (just like what scientists see in cloud chambers when high-speed emissions ionize all the atoms in their path); c) that a key source of cloud seeding is high-energy cosmic radiation of extra-solar-system and, largely, extra-galactic origin; d) that the Sun's solar-system-wide magnetic field acts as a rheostat -- magnetic fields deflect charged particles's and electromagnetic radiation's path of travel, so that solar maxima mean few cosmic rays reaching Earth, thus fewer clouds, thus warmer temperatures (above and beyond the fractional increase directly attributable to increase solar radiation during maxima) and vice versa during solar minima.

Apparently the astrophysical/geophysical historical record supports this explanation for global climate change. Concentrations of certain isotopes in rock strata, for example, bear out the hypothesis, etc. Best to Google, buy, and read the book. If I could follow it, so can you.

Best regards,
Bruce Goldman, San Francisco
(I'd be happy to discuss this if you're inclined.)

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