Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climate Simplified

Climate Simplified

We plumbers know that in order to solve a complex problem it needs to be broken down into more clearly delineated steps. Example:
"I don't have hot water" will start a list of questions. . . is this problem every where or just in one faucet? When was the last time you had this problem? Electric, or gas? Circulator? Have you paid your utility bill. . . .you get the idea. Perhaps we can break down the human induced global warming conundrum into simpler, more digestible bites.

• World temperature is complicated. If we're going to get good answers we need good data, right? And the more questionable the data, the less confidence we have in the answer, right? So, the fact is, nobody really knows what the Earth's temperature is. The job of sorting out thousands of data sources, some less reliable than others is just as much of an art as it is a science. If you want to see some of the artist's work, check out HARRY_README.TXT file. Mind you, I'm not throwing rocks at the programmer of the temperature calculating program. I've done enough programming of my own to know what  nightmare it can be to try to match up data from many differing and evolving sources. My main point here is to observe that there is an error factor in the data that climatologists are using when they scream "the Earth is warming, the Earth is warming!" How big is the fudge factor?  I don't know. Pick a number 1or 2 degrees? 5 degrees? I think your guess is as good as theirs but after all the data manipulations they're claiming a fudge factor of about 0.18 degree.  (I'm really trying to keep a straight face here. Don't make me giggle!)
• Just how big is the so called 'warming trend?'  Using this mishmash of data, the UN climate folks are claiming that the earth has warmed about 0.74 of a degree (give or take 0.18, or a fudge factor of over 24%). Whatever. So, let's stipulate that they're right. 0.74 degrees is supposed to be 57.88 degrees(c). So as a percentage, our temp would be just a shade over 1% higher over the past century. Hold that thought.
• Carbon (Atomic #6) is supposed to be the 6th most plentiful element in the universe. If you believe in the law of conservation of matter then you know that we have the same amount of carbon now as we've ever had. That's why we refer to "releasing carbon" rather than "creating carbon" when you fire up that SuperDuty diesel of yours. Carbon dioxide is great plant food and it's even very important to proper respiration in humans. It's considered to be a green house gas because it allows sunshine in but reflects radiated heat -- meaning that it helps our planet capture and use solar energy.  Carbon is said to make up about 0.038% of our atmosphere.Mankind is supposed to be responsible for about 3% of that 1/3% so figure our contribution to the pie to be somewhere around 0.0011% of the total greenhouse gases. But let's put that carbon foot print into perspective. . .
• Water vapor is not counted as a greenhouse gas but in fact, it makes up about 95% of the whole greenhouse effect. I'm told the oceans evaporate about 92 quadrillion gallons a year (please don't tell congress about quadrillions!  In 2050 that will be our new budget!!). My calculator spits and sputters but I think what this means is that our supposed 28 billion tons of carbon is being dumped into almost 35 trillion tons of water vapor. In other words, try as we might, the best we can do is to spew less than one tenth of one percent of the total greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Makes you feel pretty insignificant huh?

So, here's my question: If we nasty humans are only capable of contributing less than a tenth of a percent of those nasty greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere is it really reasonable to give us credit/blame for the whole global warming issue (if it exists at all?). Let's be reasonable. Perhaps there's another reason the earth is warming? The Arctic icecap thawed a hundred years ago. Where were we then? What about the sun?  I'm just saying that there's a good reason to be skeptical about what the U.N. is trying to foist on the world. But that's a whole other entry. To be continued?