Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), the climate change of the planet due to man and his activities, is a topic that ignites fierce debate and requires aggressive action according to a great many scientists, politicians and civilians alike. With such consequences as increasing wildfires and hurricanes and the spreading of diseases such as malaria, the issue is a major concern, said to bring certain doom to humanity as well as earth's fragile ecosystems. According to one scientific group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, "The Earth is Warming and human activity is the primary cause.”
A debate of what is happening to the earth right now is said to not exist by many in support of Global Warming. A writer for the Science magazine reports of the IPCC, leading research group of scientists studying Global Warming in the world,
"IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities . . . IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements.”
Also in agreement are the dire consequences of Global Warming. The Stanford Solar Center reports,
"[T]he average global surface temperature has increased approximately . . . 0.3 to 0.6 degrees C . . . in the last century . . . [a]lthough the numbers may sound small, they can trigger significant changes in climate (the difference between global temperatures during an Ice Age and an ice-free period is only about 5 degrees C)."
These minor changes in temperature are predicted to result in an Arctic devoid of ice by the summer of 2100. National Geographic reporter writes:
"Firsthand observations and satellite images show that the immediate area around the geographic North Pole is now mostly annual, or first-year, ice - thin new ice that forms each year during the winter freeze. Such ice is much more prone to melting during the summer months than perennial, or multiyear, ice, which is thick and dense ice that has lasted through multiple cycles of thawing and freezing."
But is there anything more to this picture? Contrary to claims of consensus and the lack of debate, there are a great deal too many scientists who believe the opposite to ignore. Whether or not global warming is occurring is not the question. Instead, scientists battle on the cause of Global Warming and what affect it will have on the environment. Brian Thomas, M.S., of the Institute for Creation Research, writes,
"The media portrays carbon dioxide as the cause of global warming. Recently, scientists have discovered that global warming may increase carbon dioxide levels. Rises in CO2 actually occur after the rise of the earth's surface temperature."
Such an idea is novelty to the majority of society, who is told that man's activities from the start of the Industrial Revolution have caused Global Warming, and that we are the ones who need to save the planet from certain disaster. But scientists at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine concluded that earth is no warmer than it has been for three thousand years. And after WWII, a boom in industry resulted in no rising temperature whatsoever; earth's temperature actually cooled slightly, and scientists warned of possible Ice Age. New research is beginning to suggest that man has little control over the earth's temperature, and that its fluctuations are much more likely caused by the sun's independent cycle of surface-temperature affecting sunspots.
Why this question over who is causing Global Warming and why does it matter? Will Global Warming really result in disastrous climates and overturned ecosystems, sending organisms to extinction and endangering human lives? Again, scientists all agree that Global Warming is happening. But how much Global Warming is enough to panic over? Is man the cause? Why is the voice for AGW so viciously maintaining its hold? A lot of questions pertain to this issue, and a lot of them await answer. But more and more scientific research is confirming an inevitable fact, and that is that Global Warming has purely natural causes and no dire consequences for the globe.
The IPCC, a leader in the case for environmentalism and AGW, has made a lot of predictions and a lot of false ones. Predictions they have made on the cause, effect, and future of Global Warming have been shown wrong by the data over the years. One of their hypotheses, and the hypothesis of many scientists studying the environment, is that Carbon Dioxide is the primary cause of Global Warming, and the raising its levels will raise the temperature of the earth.
Charts do show that there is some correlation between Carbon Dioxide levels and the temperature of the earth. However, there correlation does not tell scientists which one caused which. There is actually evidence that Carbon Dioxide levels increase after the increased temperature of earth. Reasons for why this is are still under scrutiny, but viable answers have been suggested, and consequently sought support from the evidence.
Carbon Dioxide levels certainly shot up at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but the earth’s temperature did not follow. After World War II, when the United States underwent a massive upsurge in industrialism, Carbon Dioxide levels raised considerably. Temperatures, however, went down. Today Carbon Dioxide levels are higher than they have ever been before, and yet the earth is slightly cooler than it was twenty years ago.
Why the contradicting data? While some charts show Carbon Dioxide and the Earth’s temperature to be almost identical, other research shows the two variables to be diverging. The fact is that the study of the earth’s global climate is a relatively new field of study. Not enough data or research is available to draw significant conclusions, although a wealth of hypotheses are being made and tested. Even the question of whether or not raising Carbon Dioxide levels is harmful has been considered.
Three climatologists conducted research in 1998 and came to some interesting conclusions. On rising Carbon Dioxide levels, they observed that
“[T]he effect [of Carbon Dioxide] on the environment is likely to be benign. Greenhouse gases cause plant life, and the animal life that depends upon it, thrive.”
In other words, more Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere would mean more plant life, and that life would be stronger, healthier, and a better foundation for the ecosystems and food webs that build off of them. They continued,
“[T]he green revolution in agriculture has already benefited from CO2 fertilization: and benefits in the future will likely be spectacular as shown by studies of 51 terrestrial and 22 aquatic ecosystems . . . Moreover, as shown by a study of 94 terrestrial ecosystems on all continents except Antarctica . . . species richness (biodiversity) is more positively correlated with [plant] productivity – the total quantity of plant life per acre – than anything else.”
Another, independent, study done on various species of trees and insects that feed on them, showed that trees grow faster and stored food such as starch more efficiently when grown under high Carbon Dioxide levels, and that moths that feed on their leaves were much healthier than their counterparts feeding on trees growing under less favorable circumstances.
Raising Carbon Dioxide may have even wider spread beneficial effects. Forests in the United States underwent a 30\% growth period in just 48 years; the Amazon rainforest is growing at two tons of biomass per acre per year. These are incredible rates, and are likely due to increased Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
The health and growth of plants and ecosystems are much better known than the temperature of the planet, and a wealth of evidence suggests that they will actually become healthier as Carbon Dioxide levels rise. Quite contradicting the crashing of ecosystems presented by environmentalists, this still leaves the question: won’t rising Carbon Dioxide have some detrimental effects on the earth’s environment as well? Actually, several scientists believe a dramatic decrease of the gas in our atmosphere will do not very much, if anything at all, to prevent Global Warming. Thus, something else has to be the cause.
Carbon Dioxide is not the cause of Global Warming. However, we do know the earth is warming, even if that is only by 0.03\% per decade. What else could be the culprit?
Many scientists have expressed concern over the ozone hole over Antarctica. Earth is protected from the sun’s most harmful rays by this layer. The chemical reactions caused by the breakdown of ultraviolet rays by ozone heats up the stratosphere (the layer of the atmosphere in which the ozone layer lies). Paradoxically, and for reasons yet to be explained by scientists, a warmer stratosphere seems to be connected with a cooler troposphere (the first layer of atmosphere over the earth). An ozone hole means less of this heat in the stratosphere, which may mean a warmer troposphere. Furthermore, the ozone hole’s formation is connected with the westerlies (strong polar winds) that affect sea ice, desert formation, and other natural phenomena. Thus, one other theory of climate change cause is that the ozone hole has a direct impact on earth’s atmosphere – realize, however, that this is not necessarily a competing model with the idea of Carbon Dioxide being the cause; the two are considered to work together.
What exactly is the ozone hole? Every winter in Antarctica, strong westerlies blow upwards into the atmosphere, pushing ozone molecules away from the continent. This hole is repaired, however, once the storms stop, and ozone is able to restore itself over the ‘hole.’ Thus, this problem exists for a short time during extreme conditions over a place in which essentially no people live. If the ozone hole has an effect on the environment, it is very slight and very short lived. There has to be a more dominating factor to control earth’s environment and cause Global Warming.
There is, however, a more viable answer than Carbon Dioxide or ozone. New research is suggesting that a great deal of earth’s temperature – up to 69\%, according to some scientists - is caused by fluctuations in the sun’s irradiance. Although there is still more to be discovered, as solar irradiance has only been tracked for the past thirty years, there are ways to calculate the earth’s temperature further back in history, and these can be matched up with known solar cycles of heat, irradiance and sunspots.
Several scientists are doing research on the sun and how it changes over time. One report concluded,
“[M]onthly global average temperatures correlate to the 11-year, 22-year, and longer-term TSI [sun] cycle. Because sunspots are relatively low at present in the 11-year cycle, the decreased sunlight is correlated to cooler temperatures since 2002: ‘In Particular, since 2002 the temperature data present a global cooling, not warming!’”
Another scientist reports,
“It has been discovered by climatologists that sunspots have their effects on how hot or cool the earth is, on rain patterns and levels, and even on the atmosphere’s C-14 levels.”
We know the current cycles of the sun’s electromagnetic field and sunspots, but what about in the past? Scientists can actually test earth’s past temperatures a number of ways, but the most used, and most reliable, way is by testing oxygen isotope ratios in ice cores. Going back hundreds and even thousands of years, these types of studies actually show that there was what is called today the Medieval Optimum, and afterwards a cooler period. Scientists explain,
“[Global temperature graphs] normally show a 400-year-long warm period from about 1000-1400 A.D., which is known as the Medieval Optimum in Europe. During this period crops flourished, the economy boomed, and the Vikings settled parts of Greenland where the ice sheets had melted back. From about 1400 to 1900 A.D., a 500-year cold period occurred. Certain crops like grapes could no longer be grown, the economy declined, and the Vikings were forced out of Greenland by the encroaching snow and ice. Sunspots were known to be fewer during this period.”
What’s more, known sunspot cycles today match up with these warm and cool fluctuations of the earth, so that it may be reasonably inferred that most of the planet’s temperature is governed this way. “Evidence is accumulating that cosmic rays associated with fluctuations in the sun’s electromagnetic field may be what drives global warming,” writes Dr. Larry Vardiman, PhD.
If evidence is so strong that the sun causes earth’s temperature to rise and fall, why is it rejected by most scientists? Part of the reason is a lack of a mechanism. But with research, that problem is vanishing. One climatologist has experimented on solar activity and cloud cover. Clouds are not pure water; water vapor must have something to crystallize and build on, or they cannot form. The particles on which clouds build on are called Cloud Condensation Nuclei. When the sun’s cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, molecules are ionized, and electrons are freed. These electrons are used by oxygen molecules, which can now attract sulfur dioxide and water – a perfect Cloud Condensation Nucleus.
Furthermore, the oceans contain more Carbon Dioxide than the atmosphere. Gases in the oceans are released when water evaporates, so a warmer sun causes more Carbon Dioxide to enter the atmosphere. Both clouds and Carbon Dioxide are parts of the Greenhouse Effect, and can warm up the earth, or at least keep its warmth better. Such data led one Dr. Vardiman to conclude,
“[T]he global warming we’ve experience for the past 150 years is a direct result of an increase in solar activity.”
Nevertheless, there are still claims of catastrophes, to the ecosystems and to man, that are said to be directly related to Global Warming. Polar ice, coral reefs, ecosystems, and organisms are all predicted to decline while ocean water rises and deserts and famine spread. The most attention has been brought to the receding ice at the poles. In 1910 Glacier National Park in Montana had a hundred fifty glaciers. Today it has only twenty-seven. Scientists predict the ice to be completely gone in the Arctic by the summer of 2100. Any documentary on Global Warming shows dramatic footage of icebergs melting and Polar Bears peeking off a small ice tip as another slips away.
The facts, however, paint a different picture: It is known that the ice receded in Greenland during the Medieval Optimum, only to return in the temperature drop to follow; as for Polar Bears, they are perfectly good swimmers, will eat anything to add to their diet (i.e. can thrive in nearly any type of northern environment) and their populations are actually up by a factor of three, at least in Canada.
Another concern is of coral reefs. These are very sensitive to the environment, and are assumed to grow at very slow paces. The worst bleach (coral dying under stress) occurred in 1998. Some areas saw 70\% of the coral die. Rising water temperatures, it is assumed, will kill off coral reefs within the next half century or so. But increased Carbon Dioxide levels so often connected with Global Warming has already been shown to be healthy for many ecosystems, aquatic and terrestrial, and there are several experiments that show plants growing faster under its increase.
Finally, scientists on both sides of the Global Warming debate realize that a warmer ocean means stronger, larger and more frequent hurricanes. This may well be a concern, and it is important to note that the Sahara Desert was once tropical and lush probably due to extreme hurricanes that had been caused by a warmer ocean.
What about third world countries? Will the poor around the world be the worst to suffer from drought, famine and spreading disease? Although the science supporting such claims is questionable, and evidence has been shown that there are no such deleterious effects to fear, these people are already suffering. Environmentalists are preventing African governments from setting up electrical plants for their people, who are forced to burn materials that give off Carbon Monoxide. Children are dying as a result.
Finally, environmentalists claim that rising ocean waters will cause seaside cities to become inundated with water. However, ocean levels have risen 2 millimeters per year, at most, and studies show there is not enough ice at the poles to raise ocean levels by several feet.
In short, the ecosystems are not in nearly as much danger as is oft claimed, and the real effects of Global Warming are probably slight.
If Global Warming is not anthropogenic, not catastrophic, and beyond our control or need to control it, why is there such a strong voice of AGW throughout the scientific community? The following excerpt, from a paper by a NASA writer, sums up the reason quite nicely (albeit unconsciously),
“Throughout its long history, Earth has warmed and cooled time and again. Climate has changed when the planet received more or less sunlight due to its subtle shifts in its orbit, as the atmosphere or surface changed, or when the Sun’s energy varied. But in the past century, another force has started to influence Earth’s climate: humanity.”
The simple reason why Global Warming is such an issue today is because of one underlying assumption: humanism. As the first quote implies, humanity is a new arrival on the scene of earth’s four billion year evolution, and it is humanity that is destroying the environment and its fragile ecosystems that took so long to evolve. More Carbon Dioxide is poured into the atmosphere through volcanoes than all of humanity’s activities around the globe, and other natural events, such as El Nino, warm up the earth as a whole as well. Environmentalists ignore these realities and often undermine the significance of earth’s dramatic temperature changes during the last thousand years before any Industrial Revolution. They are too busily focused on what man is doing to ‘Mother Earth’ and believe that the healthiest environment is one untouched by human hands. However, earth’s climate is changing, will continue to change, and man can do nothing about it. After evaluating the data and research, one meteorologist concluded,
“Man’s contribution [to Global Warming] is slight, and not enough manmade warming has occurred to panic over. There is a good chance that man can do nothing or only very little to change the manmade portion, even if he spend what alarmists suggest to ‘fight’ global warming.”
If evolution is false, if humanity has been here since the beginning of creation, then man is not a detriment to the environment; he is the caretaker of it! The history recorded in Genesis says that God commanded man to be good stewards of His creation, and that is still the duty of humanity today. Without worshipping nature or assuming its well-being is more important than the value of human lives, the Christian manages creation and his position in the world with authority and control, according to the Word of God.
Global Warming is, therefore, an entirely natural phenomenon that mankind has little control over. Not to fear, however; its effects are likely slight, and even beneficial. Increased Carbon Dioxide levels will result in healthier ecosystems, and a generally warmer earth will result in fewer deaths due to the cold – more people die from extreme cold than extreme heat every year.
Christians need to be good stewards of the environment without being caught up in the emotionalism or pantheistic ideas behind environmentalism. Global Warming is a fact, but it is due to earth’s temperature changes according to the sun’s electromagnetic cycles over the years. While temperatures are rising by 0.03\% every decade, they are currently below the average temperature of the last two thousand years.
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