There is a political war going on between “Believers” in man-made global warming — anthropogenic global warming (AGW) caused by CO2 emissions — and “Deniers,” who are skeptical climate scientists who continue to search for facts. These categories of “Believers” and “Deniers” (also sometimes called “Skeptics”) are shallow terms generated by politicians and journalists.
Often seen in this newspaper in articles by Gordon Fulks, however, scientists never use such words as “believing” or “denying.” Every honest scientist is always a skeptic.
Was 2018 our “hottest year on record” — as declared by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? The answer is: “No, not even close.” In North America alone, record-breaking highs include: 100°F in Alaska (1915); 113°F in Saskatchewan (1937); 112°F in Manitoba (1936); 110°F in Alberta (1931); and 119°F in Oregon (1898).
What about “weather” before mercury thermometers were invented (1714)? From ice cores in Antarctica and Greenland, going back 800,000 years, we know there were: [a] the Minoan Warm Period (~1500 BC to 1000 BC); [b] Roman Warm Period (~250 BC to 400 AD); and [c] Medieval Warm Period (~950 to 1250 AD). During the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized southwestern Greenland; grape-growing and wine-making existed — not only in England, but near Stockholm. This warm period was followed by the Little Ice Age (~1550 to 1850), when the Thames River sometimes froze over.
Historical droughts are well known. The earliest Peruvian civilizations (4000-1800 BC) — preceding the Incan and Aztec empires — perished largely because of severe droughts lasting hundreds of years.
Climate scientists are aware of more than a dozen identifiable naturally-occurring climate cycles — which obviously overlap with one another. For example, Sunspot Cycles occur on average every eleven years. Glacial-Interglacial Cycles occur about every 110,000 years. North African Cycles happen every 10,000-20,000 years.
Others include: Precession Cycles (every 26,000 years), North Atlantic (1,500 years), Lunar Tidal (1800 years), and seven distinct Oscillations — Atlantic Multidecadal (50-70 years), Interdecadal Pacific (15-30 years), Pacific Decadal (8-12 years), Quasi-Biennial (30 months), Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific. There are “Sixty-Year Climate Cycles”; U.S. senior citizens today might recall that 1930-45 was warmer than 1980-95. Finally, we have El Niño and its opposite La Niña (every 2-7 years).
Causes of climate cycles include both terrestrial and extraterrestrial. Because our planet has expansive oceans and atmosphere that are never in equilibrium, continuous changes in climate are inevitable. There are large differences in land:sea ratio between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Solar activity — manifesting itself as sunspots with intense magnetic fields — profoundly influences cloud formation and, therefore, Earth’s albedo (reflectivity).
Finally, changes in volcanic activity can affect climate. However, the greatest climate spectacle occurs in our oceans — because they contain by far the most mobile heat on Earth and constantly circulate that heat.
Thermometer measurements, on very limited portions of Earth’s surface, have always been subject to large variability due to local effects, which is why we now have satellite-measured global atmospheric temperatures recorded every minute since December 1978. From 1982 until 2014, my late son, in the U.S. Geological Survey, spearheaded meta-analysis of these data, searching for “evidence of statistically significant contributions of human activity to global temperatures”; he found none — despite well-known continuously rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
CO2 is a natural constituent of Earth’s atmosphere — not a “pollutant.” Without atmospheric CO2, there would be no carbon-based life on Earth. Plants take up CO2 and excrete O2, whereas animals inhale O2 and exhale CO2. Global atmospheric CO2 levels have increased steadily from about 280 parts-per-million in 1750 to 414 today, but were as high as 7,000 ppm during the Cambrian Period (540-485 million years ago) when plant life flourished. CO2 does not “cause” global warming.
Everything stated above represents facts. However, the IPCC, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other governmental agencies have chosen to “adjust their data” (i.e. “cook the books”) over the past several decades. This government-sponsored misconduct has been disseminated on the internet, many professional societies, and journals such as Science, Nature, and Scientific American.
The last time we did a Google search for “global warming” — among the top 24 “hits,” 16 contained false information, not scientific data. Reasoning behind such propaganda being spewed forth is perplexing. The best explanation is that the “Global Warming/Green Energy” Movement by environmentalists has snowballed into a trillion-dollar industry; this includes many disreputable “scientists” whose salaries and grant money depend on their perpetuating the global warming myth.
Daniel W. Nebert is professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, now retired near Portland with wife to be near the children.