Oh Noes. Yes, Global Warming. Part 2.

Oh Noes. Yes, Global Warming. Part 2.

A reply to part two of a series of articles published in the Epoch Times: read along if you'd like. Note that our author's name has changed between parts - he now uses the umlaut: Müller.

Müller begins with a quote from H.L. Mencken. Mencken complains the public are "bombarded by an endless array of imaginary hobgoblins" to keep them alarmed. Müller follows up with advertising screed about how scary and alarming An Inconvenient Truth is. The implication Müller makes is that global warming is scary, and therefore false. Of course, this is only implied: it'd be too much to actually articulate such a ridiculous argument.

Enough with fancy sounding quotes and insinuations. Let's get on to Müller's first actual argument. We begin with a premise: the melting of the glaciers began before 1880. This is correct, but not very precise or informative. Glaciers have been retreating since about 1850, at the end of the Little Ice Age (see the graph in Part 1). But, Müller points out that:

[CO2 in the atmosphere] had barely increased from 280 to 290 ppmv (a millionth of a part in volume.) Therefore, CO2 is not the culprit...

First note the misleading definition of the figures we're talking about here. We're not talking about "a millionth of a part in volume". What we are talking about is a change of 3.5%, a significant amount. If Müller wanted to honestly let people evaluate the scale of carbon change in 1880, he would have said "parts per million, by volume". As it currently reads, the article could be mistaken for claiming the increase by 1880 was 'just' a millionth. I'm sure this is just incompetence on Müller's part, not malice. Despite the facts, let's just assume that Müller is right, and that CO2 was not the culprit back in the 19th century. What was? Well, the end of the little ice age saw a return to more normal temperatures. But does that mean that CO2 is not the culprit now? No. It doesn't

We shouldn't let any of this historical wrangling get in the way of the fact that CO2 levels are now at 380 ppmv, an increase of 135% from pre-industrial levels. Here's a graph (current time on the left):

Carbon Dioxide Variations

As before, each colour on the graph represents data from a different scientific study - most of this data is taken from ice cores. Also as before, the black line is extremely accurate instrumental data.

Müller's next claim fares particularly badly when compared to scientific evidence. The claim is that "in the 20th century there also was no uniform temperature increase associated with a simultaneously strong CO2 increase". We're not talking about cause here, just association (correlation). So, I took publicly accessible data about CO2 levels and temperature in the 20th century, and fired up an image editor (to equalize scales). Here's what I came up with:

Correlated temperature and CO2 levels

It's a little messy, but the point is clear. There is a correlation between temperature and CO2 levels, shown in the 20th century. You'll notice this data only covers 1960 on - that's because I wanted to restrict myself to instrumental data, and that means starting from when CO2 levels began to be regularly measured. If anyone would like me to discuss the supposed fall in temperatures through to the mid-70s (the mid-20th century maximum) I'll gladly take that up in the comments.

After this, in order, we have proof by reference ("as discussed in Part I, scientists were warning of an approaching ice age until 1975"), plain falsehoods ("records tell of a warming stage when temperatures were 1.5 and in some cases even 3 degrees Celsius higher than now between 950 and 1450 in Europe"), and irrelevancies ("even the Bermuda Triangle was about 1 degree Celsius warmer 1,000 years ago").

There's also the charming story of Greenland: "Greenland would not have been called 'green land' by its discoverers and settlers, the Vikings, if they had not found green pastures and meadows". I'll overlook that the presence of green pastures in Greenland, in any historical period, doesn't say anything about global climate. I'll overlook the fact that it wasn't named Greenland at first, but Gruntland (= ground land). And I'll overlook the possibly mythological story that Eric the Red called it Greenland to one-up Iceland and attract settlers (a la England of the South). To reply, I need only point out that the Red Sea wouldn't have been called the Red Sea if it wasn't red. Similarly, the black sea must be black. The Mediterranean must be smack-dab in the middle of Earth, and Canadian River is in Canada*. Oh wait, that's all bullshit.



*: I recommend:
Color Names, Surnames, and Place Names
Robert Hitchman
Western Folklore, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Oct., 1950), p. 372
Available under the 'JSTOR' collection from UoA's Voyager