Monday, November 12, 2012

Climate Change in a Nutshell

I wrote an editorial about climate change for the Hartford Courant and was surprised to find it in Sunday's paper.  I whipped it up out of frustration that neither candidate was bringing up this important topic.  At the time, I didn't even consider it a clip. Here it is:

Climate Change in a Nutshell

When we crack the shell and get to the meat of the matter, climate change is not about politics and it's not about religion.

The big issue is not the cost of gasoline.  It's the level of carbon dioxide in our air.  Although carbon dioxide rose and fell in human history, it has never been as high as it is now.  Carbon dioxide is higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.  We are way off the charts.

Extra carbon dioxide in the air is linked to higher temperatures, which affect the availability of water in many places all over the world.  Extra carbon dioxide in the air is absorbed by oceans, which causes them to be more acidic.

Increased acidity and warming ocean temperatures harm corals.  Fish from coral reefs are a source of food for more than one billion people worldwide.  Climate change is a tough nut to crack, but burying it will only make the problem grow.

* Published in the Hartford Courant (11/11/12)  and the Journal Inquirer (12/1/12 - a later version)

As of this writing, the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is 391.03 parts per million and rising.

You can find current carbon dioxide levels here:


  1. Re: Courant letter 5/27. Climate models are only as good as the theory on which they are built. CO2 is the main ingredient and they ignore the natural components such as solar activity, ocean oscillations, clouds and jet stream patterns. If they can't predict the last 17 years correctly, how can they forecast the next hundred years? Sea levels are only rising at 2 mm/year, or 7 inches per century and not increasing. How can they say that temperatures will rise 5-10 degrees by 2100 when they are not rising at all? Temperatures have only risen 1 degree C in the last hundred years. That story about Antarctic ice melting refers to the outer ice shelf which has been slowly decreasing since the little ice age and won't collapse for a thousand years. Most of the ice cap in Antarctica is increasing and holds 92% of the world's ice.
    CO2, necessary for plant growth and life on Earth only absorbs 8 % of the outgoing radiate in two narrow bands of the spectrum. It's like a greenhouse with 92% of the glass missing. As it increases, it depletes the available radiation in those two narrow bands and it's ability to increase temperatures diminishes.
    Scientists who disagree with the global warming alarmists are subjected to the worst kind of abuse. Most recently---

    Jim Macdonald, meteorologist, Masters degree, MIT
    Member of 20 scientists in the Hartford area, "Ct climate realists"

  2. Jim,

    First of all, there is a consensus among climate scientists. The research paper can be found here:
    The scientists examined “11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011.”
    “Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”

    Here’s another website about the consensus and all the science organizations that agree with this view.

    Marshall Sheperd, 2013 president of the Meteorological Society has a TED video on his views of climate change denial that you can find here:

    If we don’t consider climate models at all, we still have carbon dioxide levels that are higher than any other time in at least 800,000 years. We know that because scientists have looked at air bubbles in ancient ice from Greenland, Antarctica and on other glaciers.

    Yes, in the past, the climate has changed because of solar activity, the tilt of the sun and volcanic activity, but not this time….
    “Is climate change influenced more by human activities and excess greenhouse gases or changes in the sun's energy?
    The sun has natural periods of warming and cooling. With satellites, scientists have measured fluctuations in the sun's energy and found that these recent variations have been small in comparison to human influences in the last several centuries, with no increase in solar energy in the past 50 years. Thus, changes in the sun's energy cannot explain the warming we have seen over the past several decades. In contrast, the warming we are observing is consistent with the warming properties of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that we are adding to the atmosphere.”