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Why are there still global warming skeptics?

The Carbon CycleJames Lawrence Powell reviewed 2,258 papers on climate science published between November 2012 and December 2013 and said that of all those papers, only one rejected man was the cause of warming on Planet Earth at this time. The science is settled!

Or is it? Despite this exhaustive review of papers, there is still a very stubborn contingency of scientists and general population who the media and supporting masses will call ‘skeptics.’ Why is this? Why do these “global warming skeptics” exist?

Well, for starters, I think it’s the way the question is often phrased to people – ‘do you think global warming is happening?’ In a straight yes/no environment, the answer is probably going to be yes. But a true scientist will want to go, “Yes, but…” I often want to go, “Yes, but…” But the fact I want to go, “Yes, but…” makes me a “skeptic” – even though I have just admitted that I agree with any statement that says (only) “Is Earth’s climate warming?”

So, I am going to put forth a list of questions under various headings related to the climate change debate and to make the anthropogenic warming theorists just question the science behind the settled science of climate change.

Science is about asking questions. There is no other branch of science that is ‘settled’ – even today, so the media-labelled global warming skeptics must be asking, why is the science of climate change ‘settled?” Do the answers to all my questions point indisputably to man being the only thing – or the dominant thing – influencing climate on this planet, and that influence is undeniable towards warming? And if we aren’t, how effective is what we are proposing going to be in light of what we’ve just learned?

So let’s start asking questions, and then the global warming advocates can go digging for answers (and eventually, I hope to get around to addressing many parts in this page in separate articles). This is by no means a comprehensive list of questions in climate change because the vexing thing about asking questions is it leads to more questions…

The fear factor

  • Why are we worried about climate change?
  • Why is it bad that the climate is getting warmer?
  • Is there any good if the climate got colder?
  • What are some good things about the climate getting warmer?
  • What are some bad things that will happen if the climate got colder?
  • What has happened in human history when the world got colder?
  • What has happened in human history when the world was warming or as warm as now?
  • What has happened in other times – millions of years ago, to life, when it got hotter or colder than now?
  • Are we in an ice age right now?
  • Are we in a hot period right now?
  • Are we in an interglacial period right now?

What causes climate change:

  • What is the difference between the weather and the climate?
  • Why is it the weatherman can’t even predict the weather 5 days from now, but scientists can speak so confidently about the climate 100 years from now?
  • Does the weather today influence the climate of tomorrow?
  • Why does the climate change?
  • What are things that can cause climate change?
  • What can cause the climate to warm up?
  • What can cause the climate to cool down?
  • What is so important about the atmosphere with respect to climate change?
  • Can rocks and soil influence the climate?
  • Can animals, plants, microbes, fungi and anything else that ‘lives’ affect the climate?
  • Does the water cycle (rivers, oceans, glaciers, sea ice etc) affect the climate?
  • Do humans cause/create all the things that can make the climate cool or warm?
  • Can humans control all the things that can cause climate change?

Greenhouse gases:

  • What are the greenhouse gases?
  • How do the greenhouse gases make the planet warmer?
  • What is CO2?
  • Is CO2 the biggest greenhouse gas of them all?
  • Are humans the only thing on the planet creating CO2?
  • What natural things (ie not made or used by humans) is creating CO2 and putting it into the atmosphere?
  • How does CO2 interact with the biopshere (ie plant and animal life)? The lithosphere (ie the earth and rocks)? The hydrosphere (ie the water on the planet)?
  • How do we measure the amount of CO2 and/or other greenhouse gases humans are putting into the atmopshere?
  • How do we measure the amount of CO2 coming from natural things like animals, weathering, evaporation, volcano’s?

The climate change models:

  • How do these models work?
  • How do the scientists know what to put into a model?
  • How do the scientists get the temperatures that they put in to the models?
  • How accurate are these models?
  • Are these the climate models able to take into account ALL the things that can influence climate – both natural and human created?
  • At what scale are the climate models running at (e.g. are they able to model every single variable that can influence climate at a micro scale or is it general assumptions made over an area a few meters or 100’s of meters or kilometers in size?)
  • Are the climate models able to account for the complexities of weather? (e.g. clouds – both reflect and trap heat, clouds have different impacts at different elevations, contrails from planes, mixing of gases by weather etc)
  • Are the climate models able to account for the complexities of the ocean? (e.g. different salinity, different temperatures both on the surface and at depth, currents, input from ice, input from rivers etc)
  • Are the climate models able to account for the complexities of the rock cycle?
  • How come there is a discrepancy between the modeled temperatures and the actual temperatures?

Historical temperatures and climate change

  • Do the models use the same method for measuring the temperature or CO2 throughout time?
  • How do the scientists know what the temperature was 200 years ago? 1000 years ago? 1,000,000 years ago? 100,000,000 years ago?
  • How do the scientists know what the CO2 concentration was 200 years ago? 1000 years ago? 1,000,000 years ago? 100,000,000 years ago?

The Sun

  • We are told in the media that CO2 ‘trap’s heat.’ We know that CO2 concentrations are rising. And yet, the climate change models do not include the sun. If there was no sun, then what would warm the CO2 in our atmosphere?
  • If there is no sun, would the CO2 be trapping enough heat to still warm the planet from minus 18oC to the plus 15oC average its at today?
  • Where would that heat be coming from?

Shades of grey

Why do these survey’s always say, ‘the scientist supports humans are causing global warming?” Why do these survey’s not ask the questions the scientists would like to be asked:

  • Do you believe humans are solely responsible for climate change on this planet?
  • Do you believe humans are partly responsible for climate change on this planet?
  • Do you believe humans are doing other things that maybe influencing climate change on this planet?
  • Do you believe reducing human’s fossil fuel emissions will significantly stop climate change on this planet?

And then there is the issue of funding and publishing the results…

  • Why is a study which was funded by the government or an environmental advocacy group deemed unbiased?
  • Why is a study funded by a petroleum company or some other private entity deemed “biased?”
  • Who is deeming the studies biased?
  • Who is paying the scientist to do the research?
  • If you were being paid by someone, would you want to find results that will make your employer/source of funding happy?
  • What if the results from a study don’t prove the theory?
  • Will your source of funding dry up because the source wasn’t happy with your results?
  • Will you be able to get the ‘negative’ results published?
  • Can peep-review publishing be relied upon?

The solutions?

  • With the places that have carbon taxes in place, how effective is it?
  • Have greenhouse gas emissions been reduced by the introduction of carbon taxes?
  • Are there other things humans are doing which could be impacting climate change?
  • Are we doing anything else to mitigate climate change?
  • Can we control the climate by controlling fossil fuel emissions?
  • Can we control all the things that influence the climate?
  • Are there other things beyond our control that influence the climate?
  • Are there some things beyond our control that have a big impact on climate?
  • Why are we focusing exclusively on eliminating fossil fuel emissions if other things influence climate change?
  • What are some of the other solutions that don’t involve using fossil fuel emission control that are being proposed to change climate change?
  • Is it a good idea to implement the other proposed solutions?

Questions about Powell’s search results itself:

  • What did he mean when he said, “only one paper that attributed climate change to something other than human actions?”
  • What was his definition of a paper that believed climate change was attributed to human actions?
  • Do the scientists themselves believe their paper is all about climate change being attributed entirely to human actions?
  • Did Powell only select papers which did indeed attribute climate change to human actions?
  • Were there other papers that were written that didn’t attribute climate change to human actions which he ignored?

In conclusion:

There are many scientific theories today that are largely proven, but people are still asking questions because scientists don’t understand everything about the theory. Remember, there was a time when people thought that the Earth was flat.. that the sun rotated around the Earth… No one knew what caused diseases… Everyone thought nothing could come out of a black hole until Stephen Hawkins came along and proved otherwise…We know what causes cancer – but we still can’t find a cure for it.

At this time, climate change modelling is just that – modelling. The more you dig into what causes climate change, the more complex it becomes. The ‘obvious connection’ of ‘CO2 into atmosphere, increased warming’ seems to simplistic. Worse, as we begin to observe what else can cause climate change, we realise its not just burning CO2 emission that can cause climate change – man is doing other things to cause climate change, often quite unrelated to burning fossil fuel. Compound that with the natural cycles of Earth relentlessly trying to soldier on, with or without human influence, and climate change becomes a very complex, dynamic system.

But if you can dig into the science to get you answers to all these questions, you will have an idea why there are still so-called skeptics, and hopefully you will now also be able to make informed decisions about what the real issues (and solutions) are going forward – because if there is one thing any “skeptic” who knows the answers to most of the questions below will tell you, it’s that by focusing on just CO2 emission reduction is a sure path to an environmental disaster which will make climate change look like a storm in a teacup!

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