Global warming is not a myth

There have been many times in the past when we have witnessed deniers of reality. There were those who denied that the Earth revolved around the sun, deniers of the Holocaust, deniers in Weimer Germany, who called Einstein’s theory of General Relativity a hoax and deniers who claimed that astronauts never walked on the moon. We now have deniers who have turned the current scientific issue of global warming caused by human activity into a political one by calling it a hoax, in spite of more than 97 percent of the world’s scientists claiming otherwise.

The denier’s claims are based on statements such as, “there have always been changes in climate before human activity.” It is true that climate has changed in the past due to natural causes. These natural changes producing interglacial periods have been shown to be caused by long-term effects due to the Earth’s movement known as the Melankovitch Cycles. The tilt of the Earth’s axis changes with respect to the ecliptic plane from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees with a cycle time of 41,000 years. The Earth’s axis is currently at 23.44 degrees, putting us in what should now be an overall cooling trend. A second wobble of the Earth’s axis results from precession produced by tidal forces of the sun and moon. This full cycle takes approximately 26,000 years. A third effect on climate change is produced by the change in the earth’s orbit around the sun caused by gravitational interaction with Jupiter and Saturn. The orbit changes from nearly circular to an ellipse with a period of approximately 100,000 yeas. Evidence of this 100,000-year cycle has be found in rock cores drilled in Arizona. This 100,000-year cycle closely matches the 100,000-year cycle of glacial periods. These natural causes of climate change are long-term events, which should not be confused with the current issue of global warming in the past few hundred years caused, largely, by human activity.

The current issue of global warming started with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1820, when large amounts of coal started to be burned to produce steel. The three main gases that cause warming are C02, methane and water vapor. With limited amounts of these gasses in the atmosphere, the amount of heat radiating from the Earth into space is in balance with the radiant energy warming the earth from the sun. This balance produces a stable atmosphere conducive with life as we know it. However, if any or all of these gasses are substantially increased, they decrease the atmospheric thermal conduction by blocking various portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, thereby acting as a thermal blanket causing the earth’s temperature to rise. Methane is 30 times more powerful than C02, but the amount in the atmosphere is much lower by weight than C02. Water vapor increases as the global temperature rises, primarily because of rising C02 levels.

The close correlation between atmospheric levels of carbon and global temperatures is well preserved in the ice records from Vostok base in Antarctica and the Greenland ice sheet in the Arctic. Analysis of deep ice cores from the Vostok base reveals that 100,000-year cycle with C02 levels varying between a low of 170 parts per million and a high of 270 ppm over the past 160,000 years. In recent years, this has increased to more than 400 ppm today.

The result of this very high level of C02 in our atmosphere today is evident in record-breaking temperature levels in the past few years, melting glaciers, rising sea levels and increased storm activity. The arctic has warmed 2 degrees Celsius since 1980, the Antarctic ice sheet has thinned by 150 feet, with very large ice shelves breaking off, massive melting of the Greenland ice sheet, opening of the Northwest passage, coral reefs dying due to warmer oceans, a rise of 3 inches in the Florida ocean level since 1992 and an 8-inch rise in global sea levels since 1880. As global temperatures continue to rise, melting of the tundra in the arctic will produce massive amounts of methane, further exasperating global temperatures.

Denial of the effects of human activity on global warming is the exact opposite of what we must realize and act upon before disaster is the legacy we will leave future generations. Denial of scientific facts for political purposes by our government officials and others is ignorant and immoral.