Man-Made Global Warming: 10 Questions (PART 1 OF 2)


Human – December 20, 2007

I am not sure what gives Pat Sajak authority on the global warming issue but I shouldn’t throw stones since I am just a lowly blogger.  If you ask 100 people in the US, probably 5 will know Mr. Sajak and none will know me.  Of course the 5 that know him will likely say that he is Vanna White’s sidekick!

Pat had the guts to ask 10 questions about global warming. I will reproduce those questions here and then answer them to the best of my ability. These are the first 5 questions.  I will dig into 6-10 tomorrow.

1. What is the perfect temperature?

There is no “perfect” temperature. The temperature measured in certain locales has changed almost constantly in the last 2,000 years. The issue is not that we are currently at a perfect temperature but that we are used to this temperature.

There are billions of people on Earth that are used to living where they live, eating what they eat, and making a living the way they do now. As temperature changes, this way of life can be disrupted in a relatively significant way.

2. Just what is the average temperature of the earth?

While the question appears valid on the surface, in reality it isn’t. The issue is explained in my answer to number 1 – it isn’t the current average that is important but rather the change to that temperature. In fact, the actual temperature is not very important compared to the importance of the average temperature at certain locations (such as the North / South Pole and Greenland).

I actually doubt that our ability to calculate a true global average for historical purposes. With today’s weather satellite capability it is closer to reality but historically, the data was far too sparse with too much uneven distribution to be mathematically significant. It also is only an approximation to do averaging of temperature in separate locations because the physical characteristics are different and therefore we are not apples to apples.  I spoke of this in this article (be careful – the comments get kind of deep).

3. What factors have led to global warming in the past, and how do we know they arenít the causes of the current warming trend?

We don’t know that we aren’t seeing a repeat of a previous warming situation. What we do know is that things are different from the past in that there is (comparatively) a great deal of CO2 in the atmosphere that was generated by mankind.  Historically there was zero human generation of CO2 and now there is 100+ PPM.  The hypothesis is that this carbon dioxide will contribute to the acceleration of global warming that may be induced by other natural causes or purely man-made.

4. Why is there such a strong effort to stifle discussion and dissent?

Good question.  That is why I started this blog.  Blindly stating that the issue has been decided and we know all that we need to know is almost always a poor stance. My feeling is that it is because we are simply working with a hypothesis and the vast majority of our politicians and media don’t understand what a hypothesis really is and instead want absolute certain fact. There will always be scientists that will take a hypothesis and articulate it as fact – it sells better to the media and the politicians.

5. Why are there such dramatically different warnings about the effects of man-made global warming?

This is the same as 4. Hypothesis and projection that is stated as fact.  Also, the media likes doom and gloom projections as it drives readership and thus drives ad sales.  Politicians raise more money and get into the news cycle by talking in dire predictions of the end of the world.  Even corporations can use “green” as a way to drive awareness of their products when they are likely not to matter at all (check out my discussions on GM/Toyota as well as my discussion on compact fluorescent lamps).

I may be cynical but I doubt that I am far from the truth.

Come back tomorrow to see the next 5 questions discussed.

You can read all of Pat’s questions here.

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2 thoughts on “Man-Made Global Warming: 10 Questions (PART 1 OF 2)”

  1. Kirk says:

    Question 1 is a very important question and tells a lot about how people feel about the so-called ‘manmade’ global warming. It is pretty arrogant and simple minded to think that the temperature they are living in right now is the ‘perfect temperature’ and we should at all costs try to preserve it. Scientists and politicians should be required to answer that question before they are permitted to bully, shame, regulate, force, mandate, and tax us to change our behavior, strip us of our liberties, and shrink our wallets in a futule effort to change the laws of nature.

  2. admin says:

    Kirk – in principle, I probably agree with you but that doesn’t mean that change in climate would not radically affect the lives and well being of certain individuals in certain portions of the world. It is important to not minimize this aspect of the discussion. The perfect temperature is not nearly as important as how dramatic of a change occurs – the more dramatic it is the more impact occurs.

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