CO2 Report Debunks Climate Change Catastrophes
For decades, climate change alarmists have generated a host of doomsday scenarios, all based on the theory of anthropogenic global warming: human CO2 emissions will force Earth's climate to warm uncontrollably causing all manner of unpleasantness. A new study, published by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, addresses the major predicted effects of global warming head on. Making extensive use of peer reviewed research papers, the dire predictions of climate alarmists are demolished point by point. In fact, the authors conclude that rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations associated with the development of the Industrial Revolution have actually been good for the planet.
The 168 page report, “Carbon Dioxide and Earth’s Future: Pursuing the Prudent Path,” authored by Craig D. Idso and Sherwood B. Idso, addresses the bewildering morass of climate change disinformation using solid science to refute predictions of future environmental disaster. As the authors' state “The villain of the story is industrial man, who has "altered the course of nature" by releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide into the air via the burning of coal, gas and oil.” The questions the report addresses are framed in the executive summary:
As presently constituted, earth’s atmosphere contains just slightly less than 400 ppm of the colorless and odorless gas we call carbon dioxide or CO2. That’s only four-hundredths of one percent. Consequently, even if the air's CO2 concentration was tripled, carbon dioxide would still comprise only a little over one tenth of one percent of the air we breathe, which is far less than what wafted through earth’s atmosphere eons ago, when the planet was a virtual garden place. Nevertheless, a small increase in this minuscule amount of CO2 is frequently predicted to produce a suite of dire environmental consequences, including dangerous global warming, catastrophic sea level rise, reduced agricultural output, and the destruction of many natural ecosystems, as well as dramatic increases in extreme weather phenomena, such as droughts, floods and hurricanes.
As strange as it may seem, these frightening future scenarios are derived from a single source of information: the ever-evolving computer-driven climate models that presume to reduce the important physical, chemical and biological processes that combine to determine the state of earth’s climate into a set of mathematical equations out of which their forecasts are produced. But do we really know what all of those complex and interacting processes are? And even if we did -- which we don't -- could we correctly reduce them into manageable computer code so as to produce reliable forecasts 50 or 100 years into the future?
Craig D. Idso, who is the founder and chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, has a PhD in Geography from Arizona State University. He is the brother of Keith E. Idso and son of Sherwood B. Idso. In 2009 he coauthored the book “CO2, Global Warming and Species Extinctions: Prospects for the Future” with his father.
Sherwood B. Idso assumed the Presidency of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change on 4 October 2001. Prior to that time he was a Research Physicist with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service at the US Water Conservation Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dr. Idso is the author or co-author of over 500 scientific publications including the books Carbon Dioxide: Friend or Foe? (1982) and Carbon Dioxide and Global Change: Earth in Transition (1989). He served on the editorial board of the international journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology from 1973 to 1993 and since 1993 has served on the editorial board of Environmental and Experimental Botany. Over the course of his career, he has been an invited reviewer of manuscripts for 56 different scientific journals and 17 different funding agencies, representing an unusually large array of disciplines. In other words, he is very much a main stream environmental scientist.
According to Idso and Idso's detailed analysis, real-world observations fail to confirm essentially all of the alarming predictions made by global warming catastrophists and, in the case of climate models, they reveal many shortcomings and inadequacies. Observation of nature demonstrates that, even though the world has warmed substantially over the past century or more, none of the nasty environmental side effects that are predicted by climate alarmists has ever come to pass.
The report directly addresses ten different assertions made by the IPCC reports and associated climate scientists. All are purported to be a direct result of rising atmospheric CO2 levels—levels that are being driven by human activity. Here are the specific charges that are examined:
- Unprecedented Warming of the Planet — With respect to air temperature, the climate-alarmist contention is multifaceted. It is claimed that over the past several decades: (a) earth’s temperature has risen to a level that is unprecedented over the past millennium or more, (b) the world has been warming at a rate that is equally unprecedented, and (c) both of these dubious achievements have been made possible by the similarly unprecedented magnitude of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, due to humanity’s ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil.
- More Frequent and Severe Floods and Droughts — As a result of the global warming and change in weather patterns that climate models predict will occur in response to the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content, it is claimed that floods and droughts will become both more numerous and severe throughout the world.
- More Frequent and Severe Hurricanes — CO2-induced global warming will increase the frequency, intensity and duration of hurricanes.
- Rising Sea Levels Inundating Coastal Lowlands — Anthropogenic-induced global warming will lead to rapidly melting polar ice sheets, rapidly rising sea levels and catastrophic coastal flooding.
- More Frequent and Severe Storms — Among the many highly-publicized catastrophic consequences that climate alarmists contend will attend the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content are predicted increases in the frequency and severity of a variety of different types of storms.
- Increased Human Mortality — Human mortality will escalate due to increasingly more severe and frequent heat waves, as well as a result of the enhanced spreading abroad of numerous vector-borne diseases, all brought about by CO2-induced global warming.
- Widespread Plant and Animal Extinctions — With respect to plants and animals, global warming alarmists have long contended that the increase in temperature predicted to result from the ongoing rise in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration will be so great and occur so fast that many species of plants and animals will not be able to migrate poleward in latitude or upward in elevation rapidly enough to avoid extinction.
- Declining Vegetative Productivity — Rising temperatures and increased weather extremes will decimate the productivity of critical earth ecosystems.
- Frequent Coral Bleaching — Rising ocean temperatures driven by CO2-induced global warming is killing the world's corals.
- Marine Life Dissolving Away in Acidified Oceans — Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are lowering seawater pH, resulting in reduced calcification, metabolism, fertility, growth and survival of many marine species.
Resilient Earth readers will find all of these claims familiar and searching our site will return many articles addressing these same topics. The great service that the Idso study performs is consolidating many lucid counter arguments and a wealth of supporting references in a single document. It would be hard to do justice to each of the ten categories in a single blog post so, instead, I will try to capture the flavor of the study by examining the first topic, Unprecedented Warming of the Planet.
Unprecedented Warming of the Planet
The authors begin by quoting work done by Petit et al. in 1999 (see “Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica”). They found that during the Holocene, which is actually just the latest in a long series of interglacial periods, peak temperatures have been the coldest of the last five interglacials. The four interglacials that preceded the Holocene were, on average, more than 2°C warmer (see figure below).
Proxy temperature anomalies derived by Petit et al.
This position is backed up with a more recent study (2009) by L. C. Sime et al. (see “Evidence for warmer interglacials in East Antarctic ice cores”). According to that paper the “maximum interglacial temperatures over the past 340,000 years were between 6.0°C and 10.0°C above present-day values.” These findings led Idso and Idso to conclude that temperatures during the current interglacial were indeed unusual, but not unusually warm—quite to the contrary, they have been unusually cool.
They also discuss more recent temperature history citing work by F. C. Ljungqvist, who developed a 2000-year temperature history of the extra-tropical portion of the Northern Hemisphere (30-90° North Latitude). Contrary to attempts by Mann et al. to rewrite the temperature history of the last 2000 years, Ljungqvist found “a Roman Warm Period c. AD 1-300, a Dark Age Cold Period c. AD 300-800, a Medieval Warm Period c. AD 800-1300 and a Little Ice Age c. AD 1300-1900, followed by the twentieth-century warming.” These data are shown below.
Reconstructed extra-tropical (30-90°N) mean decadal temperature variations
These alternating warm/cold periods, in Ljungqvist's words, “probably represent the much discussed quasi-cyclical c. 1470 ± 500-year Bond Cycles (Bond and Lotti, 1995; O’Brien et al., 1995; Bond et al., 1997, 2001; Oppo, 1997),” which “affected both Scandinavia and northwest North America synchronically (Denton and Karlen, 1973)” and have “subsequently also been observed in China (Hong et al., 2009a,b), the mid-latitude North Pacific (Isono et al., 2009) and in North America (Viau et al., 2006), and have been shown to very likely have affected the whole Northern Hemisphere during the Holocene (Butikofer, 2007; Wanner et al., 2008; Wanner and Butikofer, 2008), or even been global (Mayewski et al., 2004).” As can be seen, the Idso report is replete with references.
The section ends with an analysis of the impact of CO2 on Earth's temperature. The observed disconnect between temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels is examined and the amount of CO2 increase is put into perspective. Much more detail is available in the actual report but here is how the chapter ends:
In light of these results, it is difficult to claim much about the strength of the warming power of the approximate 75-ppm increase in the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration that occurred from 1875 to 2000, other than to say it was miniscule compared to whatever other forcing factor, or combination of forcing factors, was concurrently having its way with the climate of the Arctic. One cannot, for example, claim that any of the 1917 to 1937 warming was due to the 8-ppm increase in CO2 that accompanied it, even if augmented by the 12-ppm increase that occurred between 1875 and 1917; for the subsequent and much larger 55-ppm increase in CO2 led to no net warming over the remainder of the record, which suggests that just a partial relaxation of the forces that totally overwhelmed the warming influence of the CO2 increase experienced between 1937 and 2000 would have been sufficient to account for the temperature increase that occurred between 1917 and 1937. And understood in this light, the air’s CO2 content does not even begin to enter the picture.
Its detailed level of analysis and abundance of references make this study an invaluable asset for climate change skeptics everywhere. If you have any interest in climate change and the global warming debate I urge you to download the PDF today. Perhaps the most controversial portion of the document is the closing commentary, in which the case is made that rising CO2 emissions are actually a blessing and something humanity should not try to stop. Their stand echos sentiments expressed in my post “The Case For Doing Nothing About Global Warming.” Here is how the report concludes.
We humans, as stewards of the earth, have got to get our priorities straight. We must do all that we possibly can, in order to preserve nature by helping to feed humanity and raise living standards the world over; and to do so successfully, we have got to let the air's CO2 content maintain its natural upward course for many decades to come. This is the prudent path we must pursue.
No doubt that statement will raise the ire of traditional climate scientists. Irrespective of the actual findings, this document stands as proof that claims of scientific consensus are bunk, that no respected scientists doubt the global warming gospel. Both Idso's are established scientist and the elder Idso is an Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) highly cited researcher. Together, these two skeptical scientists have driven another sizable nail into the coffin of anthropogenic global warming.
Science marches on as it always does: weak and erroneous theories are discarded along the way based on the strength of observed real-world phenomena. No incorrect theory can survive forever, no mater how insistent or how vocal its supporting clique of self-serving scientists is. So it will be with anthropogenic global warming. AGW will rank with perpetual motion machines and Piltdown man in the scientific fraud hall of fame, an object of ridicule and derision, and a cautionary tail for future generations of scientists—this is not how science is supposed to be done.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.