We’ve been trying and trying to see if there really is compelling evidence that humans are the cause of global warming, and we can’t. With most contrarian positions we’ve published, whether they regarded DDT, GMO’s, Chemicals, Recycling, Nuclear Power, The Hydrogen Hoax, Transportation, or Suburban Sprawl, it’s been pretty easy to allow differing points of view to be expressed – and remain a passionate environmentalist. But are global warming theories, like these other issues, really still open to debate?
In our search for answers we’ve encountered countless informed individuals who didn’t have the slightest understanding of the science, and the scientists we’ve questioned have quickly either given up trying to explain, saying the issues were too complex for a lay person to understand, or they abandoned their initial position and acknowleged that we aren’t really sure whether or not global warming is a product of human industrial activity. This is too bad. Scientists who want us to believe in global warming should do more than paint apocalyptic scenarios for press releases – they should explain, chapter and verse, why they have reached the conclusions they have reached.
Many of the arguments for and against Global Warming theories are covered in our article on that topic, Global Warming, published in April 2006. But one new factor has turned up since then that deserves mention. In our attempts to determine the ratio of anthropogenic (human caused) CO2 in our atmosphere vs. natural (volcanoes, etc.) CO2, we stumbled upon an excellent article entitled “Why Does Atmospheric CO2 Rise?” authored by Jan Schloerer of the University of Ulm in Germany.
Schloerer has compiled charts, by source, that estimate the total CO2 sequestered in the earth and oceans, the total atmospheric CO2, and the yearly emission and absorption rates of CO2. Schloerer writes “Compared to natural sources, our contribution is small indeed. Yet, the seemingly small human-made or ‘anthropogenic’ input is enough to disturb the delicate balance.” This claim is one heard again and again – humans only produce about 5% of the yearly CO2 that spews into the atmosphere, so why is human CO2 that significant?
According to Schloerer and other atmospheric scientists, the isotopes of human produced CO2 differ from the isotopes of naturally produced CO2, and this slight difference in chemical composition makes the anthropogenic CO2 more difficult to be digested by the natural carbon sinks on the planet – hence, this small incremental yearly increase from human activities is causing total atmospheric CO2 to rise. This point, among others (such as why CO2 is a more potent greenhouse gas than, say, water vapor which is millions of times more prevalent in the atmosphere), is a key point that must be better understood.
In the June 26th editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT, Richard S. Lindzen, opined “There is no ‘consensus’ on Global Warming.” In his essay, he says “Nonscientists generally do not want to bother with understanding the science. Claims of consensus relieve policy types, environmental advocates and politicians of any need to do so.”
Global warming is an environmental challenge of potentially cataclysmic proportions. But that doesn’t justify pretending the theory – that global warming is caused by human-produced CO2 – is beyond debate. Responsible environmentalists hesitate to offer any challenge to the widening mandates to control CO2 emissions, lest their environmentalist credentials become questioned. Nobody who opines on the topic of global warming should fail to do their best to make their own conscientious, unbiased assessment of the science underlying their proclamations.