Earth's Climate




I'm a climate sceptic. At least, that is the name currently being given to people who do not agree with the statements of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). This UN-founded organisation claims that most of the global temperature increase is due to the exhaust of greenhousegases (like CO2) by mankind. The amount of scientific evidence seems to be supported by a continuing series of weather records and extreme weather situations. The apocalyptic predictions made by the climate models have deeply impressioned the broad public. The IPCC reports did have their political impact, and resulted in the Kyoto-protocol that came into force on 16 February 2005.

In my opinion, the contribution of the greenhousegases emitted by man to the climate change is much smaller than claimed by the IPCC. The global warming is especially caused by natural causes (solar activity, El Niņo,...) and the urban-heat-effect. Extreme measures that may be resulting from the Kyoto-protocol, like the trade in clean air or the storage of CO2 in mines, are to be avoided. I can agree with a more efficient energy-consumption and other restrictive measures for industry and traffic, not because they could reduce the amount of e.g. CO2, but because the world's energy-supply is limited and because of local problems like environmental pollution and traffic.

What's bothering me most in the IPCC-argumentation, is that the global temperature-evolution is not running parallel with that of CO2. The latter has been increasing continuously during the last century, and since the fifties even at an accelerating rate. The global temperature on the contrary first shows an increase of 0,4°C between 1900 and 1940, followed by a decrease of 0,2°C till 1970, to regain its momentum and end the century with a decrease of 0,6°C. This evolution suggest that there is at least one other player, a factor strong enough to influence temperature by a few degrees Centigrade.

In his book "The manic Sun", Nigel Calder highlights 3 Danish scientists who developed an alternative for the temperaturechange. Svensmark, Friis-Christensen and Lassen found that the length of the solar cycle was inversely proportional with the temperature-evolution: a short cycle meant a warmer Earth, and vice versa. However, satellite measurements had shown that the energy we receive from the Sun, varies only by 0,15% over 1 solar cycle. That was too little to influence the global temperature-evolution. The Danish made another discovery. They found that with increasing solar activity, the cosmic radiation (energetic radiation from outside the solar system) decreased, and that the amount of cloudcoverage decreased. It seemed as if the cosmic radiation somehow could generate clouds in the Earth's atmosphere and thus could regulate the warming of the Earth. Unfortunately, this relationship is still statistics. An experiment at CERN (CLOUD-project) is waiting for several years now on the necessary budgets. If Svensmark et al. do not quickly come with some experimental evidence, also the 4th IPCC-report (2007) will not mention a lot on their theory. Moreover, an extrapolation of the ongoing solar cycle shows that the relationship is running less parallel with global temperature during the last 20 years: the real temperature is increasing faster than the solar cycles at first sight would allow theoretically. Two American scientists, Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, are defending a theory that the sun is varying much more than 0,15% during a solar cycle, namely in the not-visual wavelengths.. Certainly possible, (the strongest solar-eruptions occured e.g. in 1989 en 2003), there are still not enough satellite-measurements to support this theory.

Are global temperatures rising as much as the IPCC claims? The question seems ridiculous, but the answer is not evident when comparing temperature-evolutions of urban and rural areas. (e.g. New York and the rural, 67 km to the North situated West Point). Till the seventies, the two are mimicking each other very well, but then the urban temperatures start to rise, while the rural do not follow and - in some cases - even strat to decrease! This effect is called the Urban Heat-effect and is caused by the extra radiation from sunwarmed walls and streets. The phenomenon can easily be verified during summer by walking barefooted on a lawn and on a tiled terrace... The difference between the two amounts already to over 0,3°C. Because most temperature-data are collected in industrialised countries, they can influence average temperatures. The IPCC claims they accounted sufficiently for this effect. However, satellite-measurements indicate that during the last 25 years, the lower troposphere is warming much less than the surface temperatures. Satellites register a warming that is only half than the one measured at the surface. As a consequence, even a small correction of +/- 0,2°C for Urban Heat solves the discrepancy between global and the by Svensmark's deduced temperature. The influence of this effect is also clearly visible in a study by the USHCN.

Is the current temperature the highest of the last millennium? If one would believe Mann's famous "hockey-stick"-curve, then yes because CO2 is running parallel to this temperature-curve. These curves are running pretty flat between 1000 and 1850, then to increase, first slowly, but gradually accelerating. The problem of course is in the first 850 years. Those temperatures have never been as constant as Mann's curve is trying to convince us of. For example, during the 17th century, there was a mini ice age (Dutch), and recent calculations by McIntyre en McKittrick show significant temperature variations without an apparent change in CO2. These results are in line with other important studies like the one from John Eddy and Sallie Baliunas & Willie Soon.
And there also examples from Belgium and Europe. During the 11th century, the sea extended 16 km further in-land than is currently the case, reaching all the way to Brugge, the "Venice of the North"; (in Dutch)), and the wine-growing achieved a top during the 12th and 13th centuries. At the end of the 10th century, Vikings set foot on Greenland. Quite some scientists accept the name-giving was to seduce Icelanders to settle in the cold northern land. But apparently, climate was not that hard, because the settlements remained liveable for several centuries. Only at the onset of the little ice age, an end came to all these remarkable situations. Especially during the 17th century, the Thames regularily froze, and Dutch painters painted famous winter landscapes. All these examples are of course no hard scientific facts,and are mostly ignored. Slowly though, more and more scientific studies are published showing current temperatures are not necesarily the highest of the last millennium, and that global temperature has varied considerably without a noteable change in CO2 (beneath 280 ppm). Once again, this constitutes an indication that current temperature rises can possibly be caused by other factors than greenhousegases. Moreover, the precise influence and interactions of these 9 (!) other factors are very poorly understood by the IPCC-scientists.
Important temperature-changes are also caused by volcanic eruptions and the El Niņo/La Niņa-phenomenon. The longlasting El Niņo from 1990 till 1995 was tempered by the cooling effects of the Mount Pinatubo-eruption, but the very strong El Niņo of 1997 caused an increase of 0,2°C in global temperature (just like a similar but shorter event in 1983). Moreover, cooling La Niņa's are almost completely lacking during the last 30 years. No wonder the nineties featured strong global warming!

Regularily, it is claimed that current global warming manifests itself in several extreme weather phenomena. Though warmer temperatures can present themselves in the seasons (in Belgium: warmer winters, wetter summers), the situation is entirely different when it comes to weather-extremes and records. Unfortunately, it are the latter that are used by pro-greenhouse alarmists and the media as a proof for human-made global warming. The following examples show that weather extremes and global warming have NOTHING to do with each other.

With the above, I have voiced my principal objections against the theory of a manmade global warming. The current global warming is -according to me - nothing more than a temporarily climate change similar to the ones Earth has experienced during the last millennia. I do favor actions, but for other reasons than decreasing CO2-emission: environment and especially energy. Our supply in fossil fuels is ever decreasing. Nuclear energy results in toxic waste. Solar panels, wind energy and other alternatives deliver insufficient energy to become a robust full-grown energy-source. A solution may be the STEG-turbines, but they do emit a lot more of CO2 than nuclear powerplants (a serious problem for the greenhouse-defenders). But on top of this, our energy-demands do not cease to increase. The only viable alternative seems to be nuclear fusion: the production of energy based on hydrogen isotopes in water that does not result in toxic waste. At the current level of investment, this technological wonder will only be commercially available around 2050. Measures that lead to efficiency in energy consumption, roadtaxes in combination with a commuter-friendly public transportation network, and more stringent standards for industrial exhaust are certainly my favorites. I can not agree with the trade in clean air and the storage of CO2 in mines or underseas, simply because this does not change anything to the core of the problem.
It is obvious many more words will be spoken about the Kyoto-protocol. Hopefully, the truth will reveal itself very soon, and I hope till that time comes, common sense will prevail over extreme measures taken in fear.

Jan Janssens
16 February 2005