Category Archives: Weather

How Can I Be Expected to Take Global Warming Seriously?

Lately many of the studies, reports, and ideas that have come out about global warming and ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmostphere have been down right silly and ridiculous.  How can I be expected to take it seriously?  honestly, it baffles the mind.  One of the things that verges on ridiculous are the popular “carbon offsets” that hypocritcal rich people use to justify their extravagant lifestyle while still feeling good about criticizing middle-class moms for driving SUV’s, that is stupid, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Hollywood.  What really gets ridiculous and makes it hard to believe the claims of some scientists about global warming is when I see unbelievable articles like this one on Yahoo!, titled:

Cows that Burp Less Seen Helping in Climate Fight 

The opening paragraph:

Manners aside, getting cows to burp less can help reduce global warming.

Using modern plant-breeding methods to find new diets for cows that make them belch less is a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, scientists said on Monday.

Seriously? Is this what science has been reduced to?   They are trying to tell me that getting cows to burp just a little less each day would make an impact on the amount of methane in the atmosphere?  This is among the stupidest thing I have ever heard. If I had seen this article in The Onion I would have laughed a lot, sadly I didn’t.  Let’s read more:

He (Michael Abberton) noted the average dairy cow belches out about 100 to 200 liters of methane each day, making diet changes a key potential factor in reducing this greenhouse gas.

“There is a common misperception about how methane gets into the atmosphere,” he said. “It is actually through belching rather than the other end.”

What really upsets me about articles like this is that some crazy politician in Britain and, likely, here in the U.S. will use this as a rally call to establish more rules and regulations on our cattle industries, thus causing breeders to spend more money, go through more red-tape, and be subject to more inspections.  As a result, the cost of everything cow related will go up ranging from steaks to milk to leather.  Not only that, it would eventually harm certain grain industries that rely on producing cow feed or, for those ranches where cattle simply feed from whatever grass and grains grow on the land, ranchers will be forced to buy specific, FDA approved feed for their cows.  So what does it come down too?  More government control, less freedom, and higher costs for consumers.   All in order to minimize the amount of times a cow burps in order to save us all from global warming, nevermind the likelyhood that this would have little to no impact whatsoever.

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My 4th of July: Sweat, Rain, and Urine

In my short time of only 5 years of marriage I have has some wonderful and eventful 4th of July’s. I have had some very patriotic one’s and some that were ho-hum, but yesterday’s was probably the most eventful and I will likely remember it for a long time.

For each of the last 3 years, we have celebrated the 4th on the Military Base in which we live (and are soon moving from!!). The base has a great fireworks show and often has activities for the kids and plenty food. We also enjoy sticking around because we get together with a bunch of our close friends from Church who have kids the same age as ours. What is also great about the location is that the fort hosts the show on a huge parade field, so there is plenty of open space for people to sit and for us to toss a football around, it is really fun. The negative, like any big event, is traffic and parking. The base pretty well opens up to the public so there are tons of people, in fact three 4ths ago it took us an hour to get home when on a normal day it only takes about 5 minutes (we live on the base for crying out loud).

So, yesterday we decided that instead of driving over we would would ride our bikes and put the kids in the bike trailer (our kids are (nearly) 3 and 1 y.o.). I had been watching the forecast for a day or two and it indicated that scattered thunderstorms were likely and rain was a 60% chance. That was not going to deter us, we just planned accordingly (and thank goodness we did!). Well, our whole group was supposed to meet at the parade field at about 5:30 or 6:00 (PM), we didn’t get the kids in the trailer until about 6:30, when, of course, it started to rain. So we took the kids out and went back inside and ate our picnic dinner on the floor of the house. After about 15 minutes we went back out, it was only a light drizzle, loaded up the kids (with two camp chairs, a tent, and a blanket in the trailer also), and headed off. Oye! pulling that weight on the bike tore me up, not to mention the insane humidity (anyone who says there is no difference between wet heat and dry heat has lost their mind). When we finally got to the parade field and met up with our friends I was sweating like I had just hiked the Sahara Desert. It was disgusting.

I had felt a little silly about bringing the tent because our entire group of about 25 people just had chairs, blanket, and umbrella’s. So I decided that I was not going to set up the tent unless I though strong rain was imminent. As I kept watching the sky I noticed that to the West were huge black rain clouds. This was my sign, so I set up the tent, then almost immediately the rain started. It started as a light drizzle and the picked up intensity, my wife put her and the kids in the tent, and everyone started trying to get under some cover. Me and the other guys there pretty much avoided the tent just to make sure all of our wives and children could have the cover they needed, but then the heavens opened up! I caved and went into the tent and sat with my fam and about 6 other women and about 10 kids (all in a 3 man tent!). The guys, who were all soaking wet by now razzed me pretty well. They said things like, “Swint, you guys having a Relief Society meeting in there?” “How are all you women and kids doing?” I just rolled with it and pointed out that at all Relief Society meetings there was supposed to be a priesthood holder there, so I was just presiding. That got a chuckle. For the record, everyone who wanted to come in came in, besides we don’t own an umbrella, our last one broke, and my daughter was really happy I was there to hold her during the storm. (Although, I joked that I was like George Costanza in Seinfeld when he is at the kids b-day party, a fire breaks out, and he pushes the kids and old ladies out of the way to save himself).

After the storm we all got out, my 3 y.o. daughter was fairly scared so I stayed with her for a while. The parade field was virtually empty, everyone evacuated during the storm. So this was about 8:30 and all was well after that, with a 9:45 scheduled fireworks show. Well, my daughter is kind of a scaredy cat. Last year during the FW show she buried her face in my chest and covered her ears. I had hoped that being a year older would change that. Well, it didn’t. She was sitting on my lap when the show started and with the first crack of the fireworks she covered her eyes with her hands and buried into me again. So, I turned her around and let her put her head on my shoulder, a friend sitting next to us gave us a blanket with which my daughter wrapped herself in like a cocoon, I didn’t know if she could breath. So about 5 minutes in while I am talking to her and trying to comfort her (and fortunately she didn’t cry at all) I felt a warm sensation around my waist and thigh’s, oh yes, she pee’d on me! It was awful, but what could I do, I couldn’t change clothes or take her off of me, she was too scared. So I just sat there, fuming and disgusted. The show lasted another 25 minutes, the whole time I was feeling bad about her and also thinking that I had to ride my bike at 10:30 pm, pulling two kids, and covered with urine. Nevertheless, the show was impressive, the base does a fantastic job.

So we packed up and headed home. Before we left I had found two bike lights that mount on the front of bikes, unfortunately we did not have the mounting brackets, so I just duck taped them on, it was pretty ghetto. I am glad we did though, on the way home we were able to take a bath through the woods in the dark and avoided all of the pedestrians and traffic, it was tough to see at times, but it was fun. When we finally pulled up to the house, my wife went around back to go unlock the front door. I got the kids out and saw that my daughter was doing the pee dance again, just as my wife opened the door and started rushing my daughter to the bathroom, my daughter started peeing again, all over the floor. Ugh, it was awful. Fortunately we got her cleaned up and put into bed. Crazy. All in all we had a really good time and made some fun memories, but we were dead tired.

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What’s the Big Deal?

If I’m ever in need of some good old fashioned conversation I can find it at work.   I happen to work with some highly intelligent people, and all come from a varied background politically and otherwise.  We got talking about the age-old topic of global warming and here’s the conclusion that surfaced from our conversation:

Global warming is no longer about science and protecting the Earth.  One major piece of evidence backing that conclusion is the fact that the politicians have now gotten involved.  Consequently, their involvement has now dumbed down the issue to the point that it’s not worth discussing.  There are far too many people that are unwilling to accept the fact that humans COULD BE causing the accelerated warming of the Earth based on the simple notion that Al Gore did a movie saying otherwise.  There are an equal number of idiots out there that believe simply because Al Gore or Michael Moore have gotten behind a topic that it must be the truth.  Neither group have anything intelligent nor useful to add to the conversation, which is catastrophic for the American people as they are the people influencing our voting politicians.  Global Warming is no longer about Earth, it’s about drawing the party line in the sand.

That being said, here’s what I know about global warming.  It’s happening, it’s happened before, and will happen again.  Also if the Earth warms up, then the ice caps will probably melt and overall climates around the world COULD change.

Here’s what I don’t know about global warming:  Is it really a bad thing if our climate changes and the Earth warms up?  I haven’t seen any compelling evidence that postulates our Earth is in it’s prime climate state right now.  If it’s not in the prime state than I have to believe that it’s in a sub-prime state.  If it’s in a sub-prime state, then why waste so much time and effort into stifling change?  It could be for the better, that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  Life will move one, it always has.  Who knows, with some fertile farm land from our freshly melted ice caps Canada might achieve some relevance on Earth outside the worlds of the NHL and Maple Syrup.

Either way, it’s deplorable to me that our politicians have stifled innovation.  The only reason I’m pro-environmental reform is because I believe it’s ludicrous that we’ve not progressed any further with the combustible engine than we have.  There’s not one logical reason why the USA has any dependence on foreign oil right now, except for maybe the politicians got wind of a scientific topic and removed the science from it……just like global warming.

~ RationalZen

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Global Cooling? A new look at climate change

Global warming is a topic that is highly divisive, controversial, and in the fore front of many peoples’ minds. While I do not doubt that indeed the Earth is getting warmer, the argument that green house gases and human disregard is the leading cause of it has never sat well with me. As a result, I refuse(d) to believe the hype. It did not help that the only people I see harping about it as a problem were politicians, left-wing groups, and international political organizations – none of which I have much faith in. It is also troubling when MIT climate professors and other scientists and climatologists attempt to debunk human caused warming theories, only to be ridiculed or marginalized. I tell you, I am more apt to believe the science.

All that being said, there are scientists that can make an argument for either side of the debate. However, the most convincing arguments almost always come from those who disagree with popular perception in this regard. Now let it be clear, I do not doubt that the globe is warming. In the study that I am using as a premise for this article, they mention that in the past Century the globe has warmed .6 degrees Celsius, so something probably around 1.5 to 2 degrees farenheit. I am not even arguing that human factors did not play any role at all. What I am arguing, and it is an argument that I am more and more confident about daily, is that Humans are not the primary cause of global warming. I am convinced that warming and cooling are natural cycles that have occurred over the history of time and will continue regardless of anything humans do. In the Financial Times article that is my reference, Read the Sunspots, they give a great quote: “Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly.” It is a great reminder that the Earth’s climate has never been stable, an excellent point. They continue and add:

 

Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long “Younger Dryas” cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade — 100 times faster than the past century’s 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

What strikes me about this paragraph is that in one decade the temperatures rose 6C!! And the Earth is still here to tell about it. Now I am sure that many died during that time, but the point is that, what we are going through now is hardly a cause for MAJOR concern. Of course we should protect the environment and be wiser with what God has given us, but lets not get out of hand and try to stifle all innovation and human progress because of unfounded fear. I still have faith in human kind, and especially we in the “West.” Our society was built on innovation and getting the most out of what we have. Everyday we see new ideas and advancements that are smart and safe for the environment, just watch the History Channel’s Modern Marvels from time to time.

The primary argument that this article is making is that the temperature of the Sun determines the temperature of the Earth more than any other factor. Of course it does! In fact they argue that we need to be prepared for global cooling and a mini-ice age more than we do global warming:

 

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.

I am not saying that this is gospel or anything of the sort, I am not a scientist (although I do find it fascinating). What I am trying to get across is that there is more than one side to every story, and instead of being the alarmists and worriers that we Americans are known to be, lets be patient, continue advancements to protect the environment (not because of global warming, but because it is just the right thing to do), and make plans to prepare for a variety of possible futures.

The scientific studies part of the article is pasted below for those of you who want to see the process they used to arrive at their conclusions:

My interest in the current climate-change debate was triggered in 1998, when I was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council strategic project grant to determine if there were regular cycles in West Coast fish productivity. As a result of wide swings in the populations of anchovies, herring and other commercially important West Coast fish stock, fisheries managers were having a very difficult time establishing appropriate fishing quotas. One season there would be abundant stock and broad harvesting would be acceptable; the very next year the fisheries would collapse. No one really knew why or how to predict the future health of this crucially important resource.

Although climate was suspected to play a significant role in marine productivity, only since the beginning of the 20th century have accurate fishing and temperature records been kept in this region of the northeast Pacific. We needed indicators of fish productivity over thousands of years to see whether there were recurring cycles in populations and what phenomena may be driving the changes.

My research team began to collect and analyze core samples from the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords. The regions in which we chose to conduct our research, Effingham Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and in 2001, sounds in the Belize-Seymour Inlet complex on the mainland coast of British Columbia, were perfect for this sort of work. The topography of these fjords is such that they contain deep basins that are subject to little water transfer from the open ocean and so water near the bottom is relatively stagnant and very low in oxygen content. As a consequence, the floors of these basins are mostly lifeless and sediment layers build up year after year, undisturbed over millennia.

Using various coring technologies, we have been able to collect more than 5,000 years’ worth of mud in these basins, with the oldest layers coming from a depth of about 11 metres below the fjord floor. Clearly visible in our mud cores are annual changes that record the different seasons: corresponding to the cool, rainy winter seasons, we see dark layers composed mostly of dirt washed into the fjord from the land; in the warm summer months we see abundant fossilized fish scales and diatoms (the most common form of phytoplankton, or single-celled ocean plants) that have fallen to the fjord floor from nutrient-rich surface waters. In years when warm summers dominated climate in the region, we clearly see far thicker layers of diatoms and fish scales than we do in cooler years. Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades.

Using computers to conduct what is referred to as a “time series analysis” on the colouration and thickness of the annual layers, we have discovered repeated cycles in marine productivity in this, a region larger than Europe. Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year “Schwabe” sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%. Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun’s 75-90-year “Gleissberg Cycle,” the 200-500-year “Suess Cycle” and the 1,100-1,500-year “Bond Cycle.” The strength of these cycles is seen to vary over time, fading in and out over the millennia. The variation in the sun’s brightness over these longer cycles may be many times greater in magnitude than that measured over the short Schwabe cycle and so are seen to impact marine productivity even more significantly.

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called “proxies”) is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia’s Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.

However, there was a problem. Despite this clear and repeated correlation, the measured variations in incoming solar energy were, on their own, not sufficient to cause the climate changes we have observed in our proxies. In addition, even though the sun is brighter now than at any time in the past 8,000 years, the increase in direct solar input is not calculated to be sufficient to cause the past century’s modest warming on its own. There had to be an amplifier of some sort for the sun to be a primary driver of climate change.

Indeed, that is precisely what has been discovered. In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it, our star’s protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet. When the sun’s energy output is greater, not only does the Earth warm slightly due to direct solar heating, but the stronger solar wind generated during these “high sun” periods blocks many of the cosmic rays from entering our atmosphere. Cloud cover decreases and the Earth warms still more.

The opposite occurs when the sun is less bright. More cosmic rays are able to get through to Earth’s atmosphere, more clouds form, and the planet cools more than would otherwise be the case due to direct solar effects alone. This is precisely what happened from the middle of the 17th century into the early 18th century, when the solar energy input to our atmosphere, as indicated by the number of sunspots, was at a minimum and the planet was stuck in the Little Ice Age. These new findings suggest that changes in the output of the sun caused the most recent climate change. By comparison, CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet’s climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

In some fields the science is indeed “settled.” For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that “the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases.” About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.

Meantime, we need to continue research into this, the most complex field of science ever tackled, and immediately halt wasted expenditures on the King Canute-like task of “stopping climate change.”
R. Timothy Patterson is professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University.

 

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