The Greenhouse effect is completely bogus?

I read an acticle that more or less states that global warming is caused by sunspot activity. When sunspot activity is taken into account, green house gas warming over the past century has been negligible.

Considering the target audience, I would just as soon take hot stock tips from a green peace publication as afford this article crediblty. However, the way argument is presented seem quite persuasive. It also says that in the 70s there was deep concern about an impending ice age. Anyone remember this?
(1) “Why So Hot? Don’t Blame Man, Blame the Sun”,Sallie Baliunas, Wall street journal, 8/5/99, pg. A18

AAAARGH! That should read:
The Greenhouse Effect is completely bogus.
Doggonnit all.

" It also says that in the 70s there was deep concern about an impending ice age. Anyone remember this?"

I think that there still is. I just can’t find the reference.
So I guess we’ll either boil or freeze, right? :wink:
I try to find that ref.

Hell, There’s a lot. Just search “New Ice Age”

I used to think that global warming and the coming ice age theories canceled each other out. That is until Carl Sagan explained that one caused the other. (I think it was in Pale Blue Dot.)

It seems that the global warming will affect the ocean currents. (I think it was due to the addition of extra water to the oceans because of the ice caps melting.) The currents then somehow cause a drop in the temperature (because the temperate weather supplied by the ocean currents gets redirected).

I know this sounds kind of sketchy. Carl explained it a lot better.

Of course we can all hope that the planet’s nations will come to their senses and launch a devastating nuclear strike, thus causing a nuclear winter just when global warming is about to wipe us out.

Come on, leaders! Wouldn’t it feel great to use those awesome engines of destruction for something positive?

Live a Lush Life
Da Chef

My 2 cents on this: there was indeed great concern in the mid-70’s that the northern Hemisphere was cooling off-I remember reading that Iceland would become uninhabitable by the middle of the next century. However, there is no proof one way or the other yet. I read recently that most of the sea temperature measurements from before the 1930’s are now judged of dubious value-due to measurement error. The glaciers in the Alps are melting back-but they were declining in the 1890’s-long before the emission og greenhouse gases became important.
I guess the real proof would be the melting of the greenland Icecap-haven’t seen any evidence on this as yet. My belief is that all of mankind’s activities amount to a very small amplifier of natural effects; after all, the energy we are now using was once stored up in hydrocarbon compounds formed back in the carboniferous days. So I geuss we are just restorong back what was taken from the dinosaurs.

The following comes from Neal Boortz’s web site. It appears to be the same article mentioned by Falcon2.

It says that Sallie is the Deputy Director of the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

So, is this scientist’s research flawed or is this really the case? If it is flawed then in what way? What sources dispute this?


Isn’t the whole global warming theory greatly flawed by our tiny, tiny, tiny view of the Earth’s history? Even if the Earth is getting a bit warmer (debatable, I think, but we’ll go with it), how can we know what that means?
Even if you go all the way back to the beginning of recorded time for temp records, that’s a meaningless blip in comparison to the Earth’s history. How can we say an increase in our tiny blip of time means anything? For all we know, the Earth’s temps go up and down a few degrees every million years, and we’re just in a warm upswing.
Everything else is computer projections, done by a lot of people with political agendas.
– Greg, Atlanta (where it’s pretty damn hot, but I’m not complaining)


There exists data, generated by various means (but obviously not by direct sampling) that goes back quite some time. Its accuracy, along with the modeling used to divine a meaning, are the subject of some debate, as gene points out.
What’s interesting to me (and probably the reason the WSJ editorial page printed the article) is the conclusion some people reach – if the greenhouse effect is myth we can just go on dumping stuff into the atmosphere without worries and save ourselves the 50 basis points of GDP that (they think) we’d give up by reducing emissions.
That strikes me as risky and shortsighted.

This is not an offer to agree or disagree with opinions, which may be done only by a current prospectus.

I asked my sister, a geologist, about why gloabl warming (assuming it does exist) is considered so negative. As was pointed out in an earlier post, the earth’s average temperature has varied greatly throughout geologic time, so why should it matter?

Her answer was that although in the long term (centuries or millennia) global warming might be a neutral phenomenon (some areas get a worse climate, others improve), in the short term any radical change in the environment would cause massive disruption. If you’re a Pacific islander who’s atoll has been submerged by rising sea levels, it’s not a lot of consolation that the Himalayan plateau now is warmer and wetter. The various plant and animal species that are already hard pressed due to human overpopulation can’t adapt to major climate change on a time scale measured in decades.

In short, change is hard, regardless of which way the change is going.

Is the “greenhouse” effect completely bogus? Well, yes and no.

It is important to note that the “greenhouse” effect is not what keeps a greenhouse warm! This was demonstrated back in 1909, IIRC, when the warming effect of glass (which is opaque to long-wave IR) was compared with that of rock salt (which was is transparent in that band). The warming effect was largely due to the elimination of convection, and limited effect of conduction. Radiation, it turns out, is a rather poor way of cooling something. Of course, the misnomer is far too well established for mere facts to have any influence.

That said, the water vapor (mostly), Carbon dioxide, and other IR-blocking gases in the Earth’s atmosphere do have a fairly significant “greenhouse” effect – about 18 kelvins (1 kelvin = 1 degree Celsius (or centigrade) = 1.8 degree Fahrenheit). The mean temperature of the Moon is that much lower (it goes without saying (although I shall say it anyway) that the Moon has no atmosphere to speak of).

The gripping hand is that it is highly questionable, at best, whether the additional CO[sub]2[/sub] burden added to the environment by human activity during the past couple of centuries has had any effect whatsoever. CO[sub]2[/sub] is not easily isolated from a host of other forcings, positive and negative; whether the net effect of water vapor is to increase (IR blockage) or decrease (clouds and precipitation) temperature is unclear, and GCMs (general circulation models, or several other interpretations of the acronym) still cannot successfully retrodict global climate (the few “claimed” successes include such atrocities as “Well, we’ll assume that all the sulfates instantaneously transport themselves south of the Equator”).

Lumpy correctly points out that:

True enough, but that’s also true of a natural event on the same time scale (there haven’t been any? How about the Younger Dryas, then?). Generally, the attitude towards such has been the Victorian attitude towards sex: don’t think about the horrid thing, and maybe it will go away. There doesn’t seem to be an injection event of the magnitude that crashed the North Atlantic Conveyor and brought on the Younger Dryas on the horizon…but those that invoke the Precautionary Principle shoulld remember that not only man can be vile.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Ok, and for all of non-geologists, the YD would be what now?

falcon2 asks:

OK, the last glaciation ended about 18,000 years BP (before present). This is not to be confused with the Ice Age ending per se – the set of conditions that causes “Ice Ages” is complex and subject to debate – but there is no question that over the next 5,000 years, glaciers retreated and the temperature warmed, by about 4 kelvins, to almost its present level. Then, about 11,000 years BP, in the Atlantic area, possibly throughout the Northern Hemisphere, the temperature plummetted by 2 kelvins, and the essentially modern flora of the area was quite abruptly replaced by boreal (tundra/taiga) flora. This cold, dry period is known as the “Younger Dryas”.
The YD was entered into very quickly – about 20 - 100 years, which measure is right at the limit of our resolution. It lasted about a millennium, after which there was a slightly more prolonged (but apparently not more than a century) rise in temperature of close to 3 kelvins, back to where it had been in 13,000 BP. Since then, the temperature (and all other growing/living conditions – I’m using temperature as a proxy for them all) has fluctuated by a total of about 2 kelvins, mostly warmer than it is now (we are just coming out of the “Little Ice Age”).
What caused the Younger Dryas to occur? Debate continues, but the most likely thing is a massive injection into the North Atlantic of fresh water from a glacial lake in North America. Lake Agassiz was created by an arm of ice that acted as a dam; the ice melted, and a few dozen cubic miles of fresh water flowed from it down the St. Lawrence (an “injection event”, and a massive one, too). The fresh water, being less dense than salt water, overlaid the waters of the North Atlantic and crashed the North Atlantic Conveyor (the system of currents in the NA, the Gulf Stream being the best-known and most obvious). The Conveyor no longer distributed heat polewards from the equator, the Younger Dryas occurred, and Bob’s your uncle. It took the millennium of the Younger Dryas for the fresh water to mix effectively with the salt water.
As I say, a Younger Dryas seems unlikely at the moment – there’s no lake that’s even in remote danger of draining that volume of water into the ocean. That’s assuming that the YD was actually caused by an injection, though. In any case, the notion that natural change occurs slowly and imperceptibly, over tens or hundreds of thousands of years, doesn’t hold up.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Not to mention the riddle of the quick-frozen mammoths…

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

In an earlier post I said:

Akatsukami later posted with a wealth of superb information about global temperature trends that made me glad I didn’t muddle things up too much with my own scratch-the-surface take on things.

Akat, you certainly seem to know what you’re posting about, so I have some questions:

  1. How does one go about determining a temperature within a few kelvins so far back in time?
  2. How far back do these readings go?
  3. Is there consensus in the scientific community on the numbers, or do they hire extra bouncers at bars near the climatology department?

I’d also like to hear your take on what if any public policy implications ought be drawn here.

3K big whoop. How about 15K.

So we dont have to sweat about global destruction by our own design, its going to happen without our help. Somehow I’m not comforted by this.

manhattan asks:

The best method appears to be the 18O/16O in biological marine deposits (i.e., shells). The biochemical activity ratio (18O is more massive, hence more chemically sluggish) is about 0.25 ppm per kelvin (at lower temperatures, the difference in activity is less, so the difference in incorporating 18O is less, and the ratio is larger. I hope that that makes sense, and that I haven’t inadvertantly left out any significant digits). Since the 18O.16O is measured accurately and trivially (well, given modern equipment), temperatures can be measured accurately (but see below).
Other methods are too subject to error. Deuterium (heavy hydrogen) is almost twice as massive as protium (ordinary hydrogen), but the natural ratio of D:H is so low (about 1E-8, as I recall) that it is too subject to error. Tree growth rings have too many confounding factors to be reliable. Taxonomic methods (i.e., the ratio of warm-water to cold-water species) are as bad or worse.

We have good records for about 40,000 years BP (the ages are established by radiocarbon (14C), U:Th ratios and magnetic reversals, calibrated on tropical coral reefs). We have probably adequate records back to about 2.5E6 years BP (dating on U:Th alone; 14C is useless back this far (too many half-lives)).

Heh, no, extra bouncers at the error bars (a little joke, there).
The ages, assuming that the errors are given or implied, are generally accepted. The temperatures, there is disagreement over within a factor of about three, principally between those who believe that temperature has only a direct effect on incorporation of 18O in biological remains, and those who believe that precipitation preferentially incorporates 16O, that therefore the oceans tend to be enriched in 18O to start with in cold periods, and that there is therefore a drop in temperature produces a sort of amplifier effect. The evidence appears to support the latter, although its not sufficient yet to rule out the former hypothesis.
falcon2 writes:

3K big whoop. How about 15K.


Well, the text doesn’t always match the grahs shown, so I’d use both with caution. The text also doesn’t distinguish local variations from global ones; during the YD, the climate in Ireland was like that in Svalbard now, but I doubt if that anonymous Pacific atoll was much affected.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Interesting comments on global warming. One of the aspects of this controversy that has not been raised is that most of the data is currently being collected in heavily urbanized areas. Many of these sites were remote from urban areas fifty or one hundred years ago and thus less affected by the thermal bubbles that occur in urban locations today. At the very least this has amplified the seeming global warming attributed to GDPs. The obvious answer is to reduce the population pressures on the globe. Meet you at the Lottery!

Microclimates are a different deal entirely, turn up the air conditioner and relax. Mass desertifcation and thinning of the polar ice sheets looms a little larger on the disaster front. And yeah there was a movie where air conditioner usage thined the ozone requiring a complete depenece on freon. I saw it too.
The obvious answer is to reduce the population pressures on the globe. Meet you at the Lottery!

The gruesome truth is, scientist have mountains of evidence, they even tell every 7th grade science student exactly what happens to animal populations that regulated by predation or low birth rate. But Ya cant work the farm without lots of boys to help. You cant have sucessful religeons without lots of believers, and the easiest way to get them is to “be fruitful and multiply.” I guess I’m one of the few that payed attention, but you neednt worry the population will be reduced one way or t’other.