Global Warming - A Junk Science Debacle

The popular science behind the current media attention driving the debate on Global Warming is junk and it doesn't require a scientific degree or a vast encyclopedia of statistics to realize this point.  One must only take a quick look at recent geological and climatic history to come to the conclusion that the current warming trend is not a trend caused by recent human activity but a continuation of the warming trend which initiated the end of the last Ice Age many thousands of years ago. The warming and cooling trends of the Earth are probably affected by more factors than merely the increasing levels of Greenhouse gases and the current focus on carbon dioxide illustrates the primitive nature of the science used in arguing man's activities is mainly responsible for the planet's current warming trend.

Living in the 50s latitudes in North America or Europe a person can easily see the recent geological and geographical scars of the last Ice Age in many locations.  On mountain sides the top soil is very thin and the overburden (underlaying soils) is glacial till, basically ground-up rock, silt, some sands and sometimes gravel.  The hillsides are shaped by the glacial flows which in geological time existed until very recently. Mountains display shapes and forms which were only recently caused by ice flow.  Hills which are merely piles of glacial debris are plentiful with characteristic shapes of glacial action.

Take a hike around the terminus of a glacial and the area below and note the forms of debris and erosion.  Walk a few miles away and look at some of the larger geographical features and it is easy to see how these features are glacial driven.  Even hundreds of miles away from any current glacial or ice field it is easy to see geographical features which were formed by glacial action.

Pickup any textbook which describes geology or geography in the high latitudes of North America and one quickly learns most geographical features of North America down to 45 degrees latitude were formed by ice.  Read the book and one learns most of this region was covered by ice as little as 30,000 to 45,000 years ago with some areas still supporting glaciers as little as 10,000 years ago.  For all that ice to melt one must conclude the climate has been warming.  Why is it surprising that the climate is still warming?

The level of the Great Lakes is falling!  Lake Winnipeg is falling and silting up!  The Great Lakes were only recently nearly twice the current size.  The level of the lakes have been falling for thousands of years and one should expect them to continue to lose water for a few more thousand years.  Lake Winnipeg, only recently in geological time, covered southern Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan and Ontario.  Lake Winnipeg is silting up, that is part of the natural life cycle of lakes and what one would expect to happen after the glaciers which fed them disappeared and the climate becomes warmer and drier.

Man is ignoring the fact that the last Ice Age ended as little as only 10,000 years ago in some areas of North America.  I live in a river valley miles in width, the river valley of a major river and drainage system, the Fraser River.  As little as 10,000 years ago the valley floor was covered in ice 1 to 2 kilometres in depth.  The local mountains all had glaciers which flowed into this valley making it a river of ice.  The local geology and geography has been shaped by the action, or the interactions, of these rivers of ice.

A common misconception of Ice Ages is that the climate must have been very cold.  Snow does not fall in climates which are described as very cold.  In the high arctic and the Antarctic it snows very little except on the edges near the open ocean.  The snow which does fall in the high arctic regions is the result of moisture in the air freezing out as ice crystals.  The jet streams feed the arctic regions with relatively high humidity air which sinks over arctic regions as it cools.  This cooling freezes the humidity and it falls to the ground as ice crystals much like snow.

During the last Ice Age North America was not that cold as a cold environment would not have supported the snow fall which must have occurred.  During the last Ice Age North America supported a large number of animal species which were large, mega fauna.  Mammoths, giant sloths, giant bears, large saber-toothed cats, bison which were 25% larger than the current species and even a giant 400 pound beaver.  For animals to get this big there must have been an abundance of food.  For herbivores there must have been an abundance of plants.  For carnivores there must have been an abundance of prey.  Mega fauna and mega flora existing within an Ice Age?  North America must not have been the icy wasteland once would associate with an Ice Age.

If you look at the fauna that existed you can get a good idea of the flora which must have existed and some idea of the climatic conditions in northern latitudes during the last Ice Age.  Mammoths ate grass.  Those big tusks were probably used in the winter to clear snow from areas in which they grazed.  There must have been vast amounts of grass available to support to mammoths year round.  Grass will thrive in a cool wet environment with mild winters.

Reverse engineering the climate, it must have been cool and wet in the summer supporting significant grasslands and in some areas forest.  Winters would have been mild with significant precipitation.  The snow would have melted in the lower elevations but at higher elevations the snow would have built-up over the seasons and formed glaciers.  The glaciers would have invaded the lower elevations and flowed toward the lower elevations and the sea much like our rivers of today.  The glacier flows may have turned into a traditional river but in areas with mountains near the sea the ice flows would have flowed directly into the sea.

The climate which existed during the last Ice Age appears to be a bit of a contradiction.  While it must have been cold enough for all the snow to accumulate and form glacial ice it was warm enough to allow large snowfalls.  Look at recent weather history and the years when there was actually an increase in snow accumulation on local glaciers.  The weather phenomena which produced the massive snowfall was called the "Pineapple Express" locally.  Warm moist air from the Hawaii region was diverted to this region and when it made landfall in this region it produced near record precipitation.  Rain and snow at lower elevations and snow, lots of snow, at higher elevations.  Many areas below the current snow-line retained snow throughout the summer.

If the warm moist airflow persisted year-round the summer would be mild and wet and winters mild with significant snowfall.  I suspect you would only need this weather phenomena to continue for a few hundred years to build significant glaciers.  Once it got to a certain point the glaciers would modify the climate in their immediate vicinity significantly lowering the summer snow melt-off.  A mild and wet weather pattern would have supported both mega fauna flora plus the accumulation of snow forming glaciers.

If you visit the area below a large glacier or ice field you will note a persistent cold wind flowing downward away from the glacier or ice field, even on sunny days.  This is caused by air in contact with the ice cooling and as it cools it becomes heavier and sinks.  Below one of the tongues of the Columbia Icefield this cold wind has prevented any significant tree growth and keeps the climate below the icefield very cool allowing only stunted tree growth.  To throw a further wrench into current thinking of the last Ice Age ending and global warming be aware that this area currently below the Columbia Icefield, the valley with the Icefields Parkway, supported a forest with large trees approximately 6,000 years ago.  Has the climate cooled that much?  The Columbia Icefield is currently retreating from that valley and the forest may soon be able to return.  Yet, many will use this as evidence of the current trend of global warming while this area is warming to the same point it held 6,000 years ago.

When the Vikings settled in southern Greenland a thousand years ago it was warm enough to support a lifestyle and system of farming/animal husbandry similar to their experience in what is now Scandinavia.  The climate in Greenland changed and the Vikings didn’t adapt and ceased to exist in Greenland.  The climate change was noted in Europe and is referred to as the mini Ice Age.  The Earth’s climate cycles between cooler and warmer on top of a warming trend.  The same warming trend which is ending the last Ice Age, a trend which man didn’t start.  Man may in some way be affecting this warming trend at this time but in all likelihood man’s influence is fantastically over rated.

Sea levels have risen dramatically in the last approximately 45,000 years and this was not caused by man's activities.  It is estimated in the last 45,000 years sea level has risen by 150 metres.  The currently flooded area between England and France was dry land supporting a large population of mammoths as little as 40,000 years ago.  Fishermen continue to collect fossil tusks in their nets to this day.  With a history of rising sea levels one could logically expect sea levels to continue to rise.  Why does the media hype the dangers of rising sea levels when it has been happening over the last 45,000 years?

Sea levels will continue to rise and many low-laying coastal areas will be flooded.  This is not due to Global Warming caused by the actions of humans but the continence of a trend established long before man’s activities in any way could affect the Earth’s climate.  The problem is that many societies have built-up low-laying coastal areas which history has shown should not be considered areas suitable for permanent habitation.  Man has always been a type of nomad which settled areas when it was convenient and moved on, or died out, when conditions became unfavourable.  Whatever level of civilization and technical sophistication man believes they have accomplished they are not going to stop the trend of rising sea levels.  The geography of the Earth is constantly changing and man has almost no power over this change.

The Earth has a magnetic field which protects the surface from cosmic radiation and harmful forms of the Sun's radiation or light.  The Earth's magnetic field is one of the major factors making this speck of cosmic dust habitable for life as we know it.  This field protects the Earth's atmosphere from the greater part of the harmful effects of solar radiation.  Without the magnetic field Earth would become a sterile planet like Mars blasted by various forms of radiation.

Earth's magnetic field has historically changed in strength, the location of the poles have drifted and it has reversed its polarity in the past.  The strength of the magnetic field is currently weakening but this is no real cause for concern as it has weakened in the past and life on Earth managed to survive.  This variation of the Earth's magnetic field probably has more effect on the ozone component of the atmosphere than any effort on the part of mankind.

The strength of the magnetic field may have a direct correlation on the Earth’s climate.  Look at both Venus and Mars.  Both have very weak planetary magnetic fields at this time.  Mars has lost most of  its atmosphere, probably because it lost the protecting effect of a strong planetary magnetic field.  Without the protective cocoon provided by a planetary magnetic field the atmosphere was blown away by solar radiation.  Venus has a weak planetary magnetic field and while it has managed to retain a thicker atmosphere it an extreme example of the Greenhouse Effect.  Maybe science should attempt to determine the effect of planetary magnetic fields and planetary climate!

Another factor affecting the Earth's magnetic field is the effects of solar radiation.  Solar storms and solar flares affect the Earth's magnetic field sometimes disrupting communications in high latitude regions.  Some solar storms have been so powerful that communication satellites have been disabled or damaged.  If the solar storms are powerful enough to affect the magnetic field they are powerful enough to affect the upper levels of the Earth's atmosphere and the ozone component.  The recent period of enlarged ozone depletion zones over the poles corresponds directly to a solar cycle of increased number of storms and storm severity.  Do we really know that the current levels of ozone depletion is being caused by man's activities or by increased solar activity?  Maybe this ozone depletion is caused by a weakening planetary magnetic field allowing solar radiation to destroy atmospheric components and not due to man’s activities.

The media and many scientists appear to focus on the short-term changes in the Earth's environment and blame human activity for all of these changes.  They ignore history and the tremendous changes in climate and the environment which have taken place within the last 50,000 years.  Countless species of animals have gone extinct.  The climate has changed.  Sea levels have risen approximately 150 metres.  Massive lakes have disappeared.  The mountainous areas once covered by ice are now covered by forests.  The environment has changed so significantly to make the world of today totally different from that of only 50,000 years ago.  Why do so many people want to blame the minor changes now taking place totally on human activity?

Until science can completely explain the mechanism causing the Earth to oscillate in and out of Ice Ages they are in no position to make much comment on the causes of climate change.  Climate change exists, it has been happening pretty much since this speck of cosmic dust developed an atmosphere.  Ocean levels have risen and fallen, lands have been flooded and exposed, mountains and risen out of the sea and land masses have sunk into the sea.  Finding a lengthy period when the climate was stable and the oceans neither rose nor fell would be more remarkable than any change the planet is currently experiencing.  

People appear to believe they are important and all their actions are therefore important.  Being important implies power and this sense of power has been transferred to some weird collective sense of guilt where the more affluent you are the more guilt you suffer for the changing environment.  Forget the history of environmental change.  Overlook the fact that current environmental change is a continuation of the trend of historical environmental change.  Fail to understand the complexity of the forces which make this speck of cosmic dust a habitable place for life as we know it.  Now you are fully prepared to maximize the feeling of guilt for Global Warming.

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Revised January 1, 2007