Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 years

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In this New York Times bestseller, Singer and Avery present the compelling concept that global temperatures have been rising mostly or entirely because of a natural cycle. Using historic data from two millennia of recorded history combined with natural physical records, the authors argue that the 1,500 year solar-driven cycle that has always controlled the earth’s climate remains the driving force in the current warming trend.

They write in the conclusion:

We know from physical evidence that our planet’s climate is always cycling, warmer or cooler. We have ice cores, ancient tree rings, and stalagmite analyses to document a 1,500-year climate cycle. We have satellite readings on the sun’s variability. We’ve documented a climatic heat vent over the Pacific that keeps the planet from over-heating.

The planet’s various regions are responding to such sub-cycles as the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Arctic Sea Ice Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Nino-Southern Ocean Cycle. All of this makes predictions of future climate extremely complex, difficult--and potentially dangerous. If we had acted on fears of global cooling in the 1970s, we would have prepared for exactly the opposite sort of climate change than we got.

A recent “Weather or Not” TV presentation on a Cleveland TV station featured meteorologists from all four Cleveland television stations. Mark Johnson of WEWS-TV said, “You tell me you’re going to predict climate change based on 100 years of data for a rock that’s 6 billion years old?” Mark Nolan of WKYC-TV noted that the Earth has periods when it heats up and when it cools, and that it’s folly to look at short-term date to form long-term policy. “I’m not sure which is more arrogant--to say we cause [global warming] or that we can fix it,” he said. The moderator of the panel, retired TV weatherman Don Johnson, said that in his dealings with meteorologists nationwide, “about 95 percent” share his skepticism about man-made global warming predictions.

No one has been able to distinguish natural from man-made warming, except in terms of its timing: most of the warming since 1850 came before 1940, and thus cannot legitimately be blamed on human-emitted CO2. We must assume that the 1,500-year cycle has continued to function since 1940, and may be responsible for part of the post-1940 warming too. Logic says we probably cannot blame humans for more than half of the warming since that date--at most.

Since industrialized regions have seen the vast majority of warming, we may be dealing with localized surface heating driven primarily by urban heat islands and land use changes, once again not by human-emitted CO2. However, it seems prudent to assume that humans have exacerbated the current warming to some small degree.

It does not seem prudent to shut down crucial human technologies based only on a small warming and a weak theory. Especially when the theory’s past predictions--such as the strong warming predicted long since for the Arctic and Antarctic--have not been validated.


References

The Heartland Institute = Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 years

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