March 11, 2009
We’ve all heard about carbon dioxide and its effect on temperature world-wide. But have you heard that temperature increases first, then hundreds or more years later carbon dioxide levels rise? My guess is probably not. A children’s book with a mislabeled graph shows temperature following carbon dioxide; a leading science journal took over ten years to set the record straight; Al Gore blames carbon dioxide. Yet, there has been no temperature increase in the last nine years in spite of increasing carbon dioxide levels. Clearly, we need to find another culprit.
Earth isn’t the only heavenly body that’s been heating up. The polar ice caps on Mars are melting. Jupiter is developing a second giant red spot, an enormous hurricane-like storm thought to be the result of warming in our solar system. Neptune’s moon Triton has heated up significantly since 1989. Parts of its frozen nitrogen surface have begun melting and turning to gas. Even Pluto has warmed slightly in recent years if you can call -230C warmer than -233C.
The question has been asked, is there something all these heavenly bodies have in common? Some one thing they all share that could be causing them to warm in unison, like a giant self-luminous ball of burning gas with a mass more than 300,000 times that of Earth and a core temperature of more than 20 million degrees C, that for the past century has been unusually powerful and active? Hmm- perhaps the Sun should be taking more of the blame for increasing temperatures in the entire solar system.
What about temperature measuring stations? When the Soviet Union was falling apart from 1989 to 1992 folks there didn’t much care about keeping temperature monitoring stations. Thousands were ignored and it’s important to note that many of these were in cold regions-think Siberia. Others around the world were closed at the same time. Could this have contributed to the world-wide temperature increases in the 1990s?
Here in the United States we aren’t that great about keeping our weather monitoring stations in proper order. Anthony Watts, and his team of volunteers, have been checking the condition and placement of weather stations. They’ve now checked 75% of the 1221 United States stations and find only 11% meet standards. The concern is that objects near a station affect what thermometers record. Buildings, parking lots, air conditioners, and sewage treatment plants near weather stations may emit heat and ultimately skew readings.
All of this information and much more was covered at the Second International Conference on Climate Change hosted by the Heartland Institute and 60 cosponsoring organizations in New York City, March 8-10. Nearly 700 attendees from around the world heard opening remarks from Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast and keynote addresses from Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic and of the European Union, and Richard Lindzen of MIT. Other keynote speakers included John H. Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire and chief of staff under President George H. W. Bush, US Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Lawrence Solomon, author of The Deniers, and Willie Soon, chief science advisor at the Science and Public Policy Institute.
More than 80 presentations were available to attendees during the meeting. My only complaint as an attendee was that with four concurrent break-out sessions at all times, I missed many speakers I would have liked to hear. Fortunately, a lot of material was available in the form of hand-outs and books.
Although some of these folks have been labeled Holocaust deniers, skeptics, and other foul-sounding names, these were serious scientists with data that should be more open to the public. Jay Lehr suggests that these folks should no longer be labeled skeptics, but instead called Realists. I couldn’t agree more.
Jack Dini was a materials engineer and Section Leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is a past national president of the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society, author of more than 250 papers on electrodeposition and the book, Electrodeposition: the Materials Science of Coatings and Substrates. Since 1998 he has been writing a monthly column titled “Fact or Fiction?” for Plating and Surface Finishing (P&SF). He has also written for the American Council on Science and Health, Environment & Climate News (The Heartland Institute) and Hawaii Reporter. His book, Challenging Environmental Mythology, was published in 2003. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org