With the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic waning somewhat in the USA and locally here in Oregon, as people become more careful about spreading it, we are close to the point where we should talk about ‘lessons learned.’ That is the process of 20/20 hindsight, where we look back at what was done and not done that could have altered the course of the pandemic more favorably. Politicians and other political partisans are already offering their commentary, usually blaming someone else for their own miserable mismanagement.
Everyone across the political spectrum should be chastised for the backwards quarantine, where we quarantined the young and healthy and did little to keep the infected from transmitting the virus to those at severe risk, namely the elderly. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo even ordered his state’s nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients! That resulted in thousands of deaths. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used his resources to protect the most vulnerable, and Florida did not see the same carnage.
But let us take a breather from nonstop pandemic discussions to remember the “other crisis” that will return as soon as the Left has milked the coronavirus for all it is worth. Fanatics understand that crises are perfect tools for moving our society in directions that most would never want under normal circumstances. Too many are now talking about a “new normal” where we permanently wear face masks, suffer blackouts when the wind does not blow, and drive around in short range electric cars that are ideal for a heavily controlled society where our political masters dictate where we can travel.
Welcome to an Orwellian world.
The Perpetual Crisis
Pandemics come and go, while climate is here to stay. Hence climate makes the perfect perpetual crisis. Our weather is always doing something ominous somewhere, and the superstitious among us can always be persuaded to worry. With atmospheric carbon dioxide promoted as the only driver of climate and because fossil fuels are so fundamental to our way of life, carbon controls become the perfect tool for controlling the entire society.
Those with any scientific knowledge should realize that carbon, as the essential building block of all life, can never be considered evil. It is pure nonsense to demonize the carbon dioxide that all plants need to survive and all animals exhale as part of the natural carbon cycle. Yet that nonsense is what we live with everyday. Every school child faces indoctrination in the evils of carbon dioxide as a part of their public school curriculum. Teachers who scare children with such propaganda are themselves evil.
Climate lore from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that atmospheric carbon dioxide started to rise as a result of the Industrial Revolution about 1830. People are normally shown CO2 levels reconstructed from the tiny air bubbles trapped in glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. Figure 1 shows CO2 levels reconstructed from the ‘Law Dome’ ice cores in Antarctica.
Ice cores are also regularly used to reconstruct past temperatures, using the stable O-18 isotope. But while the temperature reconstructions are largely foolproof, the CO2 reconstructions assume that the air bubbles are pristine examples of an ancient atmosphere. That cannot be correct for gases like CO2 that are readily soluble in water.
The late Polish physicist and physician Zbigniew Jaworowski strenuously argued that ice core CO2 reconstructions are largely worthless. And the late German scientist, Ernst Georg Beck, argued that the many chemical measurements of atmospheric CO2, dating from the early 19th century, showed CO2 excursions up to levels we are seeing today with modern IR techniques. The UN IPCC has largely ignored these arguments and data. They seamlessly mate the ice core reconstructions to the modern IR measurements to make the point that humans are entirely responsible for the observed increase in atmospheric CO2. That is fundamental to their argument that the Greenhouse Effect from our burning of fossil fuels is entirely responsible for the slight warming observed since the depths of the “Little Ice Age” around 1800.
Yet the Earth’s atmosphere naturally exchanges huge amounts of CO2 with our oceans and biosphere, such that recent observed increases involve a combination of human and natural sources. As I reported in previous NWC Op-Eds (02/2019 and 01/2020), theoretical physicist Ed Berry and atmospheric physicist Murry Salby have quantified the human contribution as roughly 5% of the 415 ppmv currently in the atmosphere or about 20 ppmv. Their approach is so simple and physically reasonable that several, including me, believe it to be very solid.
However others, including President Trump’s former Science Advisor, Princeton Professor of Physics Will Happer, still argued for the UN IPCC approach. Once retired, however, Happer worked with Berry and others to check his solution to a system of differential equations. They found that they now generally agree on the mathematics.
But what about the ice core data? It seems to support the widely held belief that atmospheric CO2 never varied much until man discovered fossil fuels. Yet the ice cores do not reveal any details of atmospheric CO2 over centuries, leading to the false conclusion that there are none.
A Great Treasure in a Small Pond
A small pond on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, known as Jay Bath, and other sites around Washington State and British Columbia have now changed all that.
Just recently, a Dutch geophysicist, Chris Schoneveld, sent Happer a copy of the long ignored 2004 PhD thesis of Lenny Kouwenberg at the University of Utrecht in the with the volcanic ash found in two layers corresponding to eruptions of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and 1481 AD.
Low and behold, Jaworowski and Beck were correct. Over the last millennium, there have been substantial natural variations in atmospheric CO2 similar to what we are observing today. That means that the theory from Berry and Salby is looking very solid indeed. And the conclusion that humans are small players in the level of atmospheric CO2 is very sturdy.
The treasure from an insignificant pond on Mt Rainier is indeed spectacular refutation of the climate narrative from the UN IPCC. Unfortunately, Lenny Kouwenberg did not realize the significance of what she had measured and kept trying to explain it in terms of the prevailing paradigm. I suppose that is the only way to get a PhD in these troubled times.
Gordon J. Fulks lives in Corbett and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He holds a doctorate in physics from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research and has no conflicts of interest on this subject.