Record high temp for this date at Lihue, Maui, today, so I heard on the radio. Here on Oahu, however, it was cool-ish (for here), with heavy rain in the morning, a brief clearing spell mid-day, and even heavier rain starting in the late afternoon. Grey, windy, rainy, dismal.
At least it's not snowing. Not on Oahu, anyway. Maybe on the Big Island.
I was reading a bit about global warming today. Just to irritate myself, I suppose. Y'see, I'm not entirely convinced. I should say, I'm not entirely convinced that human activity plays a significant role in what might be a natural cycle. More specifically, I'm becoming increasingly skeptical that CO2 emissions are a causative factor in the warming trend. "But scientists say it's true!" Uh huh. "Scientists" also said this was true. Based on those projections, I should be living in an igloo.
What's up with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work? That's like giving Yasser Arafat a Nobel Peace Prize. Oh, wait... they did give the terrorist leader who (reputedly ) planned the abduction and murder of the Israeli Olympic team in 1972 a Nobel Peace Prize. So, yeah, I guess it fits.
Al Gore. Jet-setter, rocketing across the Atlantic so he could personally open both the London and New York gigs of his global warming concerts; front-man for the cadre who say it's okay for the rich to burn fuel extravagantly as long as they "buy carbon credits." According to Big Al's web site, even though I live in a 900 sq. ft. house with no heat and no air-conditioning, and only drive 10 miles to work (not in a chauffeured limousine), and travel by airplane only once every two or three years, and recycle my beverage containers and cardboard, I still exceed my "carbon allotment" by a considerable margin.
A f^cking tobacco farmer has the gall to tell me I'm a drain on the environment.
Does anybody remember what Al Gore used to do before he became a docu-drama eco-pr0n film star? He was vice-president of the United States, back in the heady days of NAFTA. NAFTA was the program designed to reduce or eliminate environmental regulations to allow the U.S. to compete head-to-head with Mexico on an even footing. Even footing, as in, create toxic-sludge dumps on both sides of the border. Gore was Clinton's man in the trenches, out there lobbying hard to fast track NAFTA, and hammer the environment.
When Big Al was running with Clinton for office, the greenies were touting him as a savior. After his election, they were burning the enviro-book he'd written and denouncing him as a traitor.
Remember the "Salvage Logging Bill," and marbled murrelets and spotted owls and snail darters? Big Al was pushing hard to carve more roads into the national forests (thereby eliminating those areas from consideration for "wilderness" designation), reclassify wilderness areas, increase cutting quotas (and subsidies to the timber companies) and "harvest" previously off-limits forests because of insect infestations or "fire danger." The same guy who is now telling us that deforestation in "the rain forests of South America" is a major cause of global warming was a leader in the crusade to leave not a single stick standing in the forests of North America.
Arafat, the killer, got a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end killing. Gore, environmental scourge who did nothing during his tenure as, arguably, the second-most powerful man in the world to help the environment, gets a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts on behalf of the environment.
Big Al got an Academy Award for his crummy little film, too. Jeez, who'd a thunk a film about a guy riding around in his gas-guzzling stretch limo staring pensively out the window while musing about the impact of exhaust fumes on the atmosphere would be the "best film of the year"? And people actually took this piece of tripe seriously! These would be the same people, I suppose, who dissed the film that fat white guy made a few years ago which pointed out that George Bush and Osama Bin Laden's family "just happened" to be in Florida at the time of the September 11th attack, and that George Bush personally allowed Bin Laden's family to fly back to Saudi Arabia during the period when all other air traffic in the country was grounded, and that the price of oil was at about eleven dollars a barrel when Bush was elected, and that the Bush family makes their money from oil... nah, who'd believe that rubbish? But New York under water after Greenland suddenly melts? Oh my god... that could really happen!
I suppose it makes sense for people who believe in global warming to drive Hummers and Cadillac Escalades. Those rigs have high ground clearance. When the sea levels rise, they can ford the overflowing storm drains to get to Wal-Mart.
Some of my readers ("my readers." I'm starting to sound as pretentious as My Favourite Author) are either scientists, or know people who are scientists. Yes, Trippy, I'm referring to you. Yes, Trippy, I know Carly Simon was also referring to you, but that's not germane to this discussion. But maybe my scientist friends or Trippy's scientist friends can weigh in on this "Keeling Curve" thing for me. In his film, Big Al shows the CO2 graph. Now any moron, like myself, can manipulate the scale on a graph to make the line look either "shocking" or "inconsequential," as the situation warrants. Big Al's graph was scaled for "shock value." My extremely reliable source (Wikipedia) suggests that between 1958 (back when, apparently, the planet was in the midst of a cataclysmic cooling cycle and destined for a new ice age) and today, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, as measured at the top of a mountain in Hawaii, from a baseline of about 315 parts per million, has risen by about 65 parts per million (or about 20%). I have a couple (or more... I always think of more when I'm typing out my initial questions) questions about this.
Question one: twenty percent of zero-point-zero-three percent of the total atmosphere doesn't seem like all that much. Is a trace change in a trace gas in the atmosphere really going to make a perceptible difference in... anything?
Question two: aren't "particulates," or "macroscopic pollutants" likely to have more impact on temperatures than invisible trace gases, due to either absorbing or reflecting solar radiation? Unlike Big Al's "greenhouse gases" and "carbon credits" and all that rubbish, which I take with a grain of salt, I'm convinced of the reality of "global dimming," because I can see it! The sky is never as blue as it was when I was a kid. The stars are never as bright and clear as they used to be. And it' ain't just because I need glasses. (I only need glasses for reading, anyway. I can still see colors.)
Sub-question two: I don't get the "dilemma" some people see in global dimming. They say that if there's more "stuff" in the air, it will reflect solar energy back into space, and the earth should cool. Jeez, these scientists... I thought they were supposed to be smart. Look, guys, here's an experiment. Write yourselves a grant, you'll get a trip out of it. What you do is, go to London. Outside of London there's this big botanical garden called Kew Garden. They have a lovely Victorian era wrought-iron building there called the Palm House. In the movie Bedazzled (the original one, with Peter Cook) it's where God lives. Anyway, go the the Palm House at Kew. Look at it from the outside. It's shiny. That's because the glass panels reflect sunlight. Now go inside the Palm House. The air inside is warmer than the air outside. That's because the glass panels, which appear to reflect sunlight from the outside, also let sunlight in and serve to hold heat inside as well! "Actually," scoffers might suggest, "the heat is attributable to steam ducts under the floor, rather than radiant retention by the glass." Disagreements like this are why science is so great! Just get some more grant money and fly to Adelaide. The Adelaide Botanic Garden has a similar, although smaller, Palm House, which is unheated. It's equally as shiny (reflective) as the Kew Gardens Palm House, and like Kew, remains warmer inside than the outside air. Particulates in the air work the same as glass panes in a greenhouse roof, letting most of the light pass, and holding much of the heat which would normally dissipate in. This also explains why it's called the "greenhouse effect." Nifty, huh? Anyway, why has "global dimming" (or "particulates," or "macroscopic pollution") dropped off the ecological disaster radar in favor of the trace gas of the moment? Particulates make the sky look yucky and they warm things up. There's acid rain dissolving European landmarks and lung cancer and all kinds of fun stuff like that, too. Particulate-based global dimming is way more fun, cataclysmically speaking, than CO2.
Question three, which is my MAIN question, really: the Keeling Curve is based on measurements taken in Hawaii starting in the late 1950s. The entire population of Hawaii was about 615,000 in 1959. Today the population is about 1.285-million, with an average commute time of 26 minutes. There are a lot of cars on the road that weren't here in 1958, and those cars spend a lot of time running their engines. There are several additional power plants spewing combustion gases into the air. Jet airline traffic has increased dramatically over the last 40 years. Tourism volume is almost equal, in a typical year, to the 1950s total population. The cities have grown, there's more pavement, there's less agriculture, there are fewer acres of vegetation and more urban sprawl. Yes, the atmospheric monitoring station is high atop a mountain. But still... couldn't local development, especially on the scale it's been growing in Hawaii over the last 40 years, be impacting the atmosphere in the vicinity of Mauna Loa... particularly when these measurements are so sensitive as to be affected by changes in single parts per million? There are some seriously smoke-belching cars in Hawaii, despite the mandatory "safety inspections." There's smog from Honolulu, there's "vog" from the volcanoes... Kilauea has been in continuous eruption since 1983... couldn't these play a part in Keeling's observations and impact the curve? Mauna Loa isn't as isolated as it was 40 years ago. The environment is not as pristine. My thinking is, while the Keeling Curve is applicable locally, it's not necessarily valid to project it globally, as Gore does in his film. Measurements aren't valid if you move the ruler. Development and pollution over 40 years, I would think, have "moved the ruler" on observations from Mauna Loa.
What's the net result of all these words I've just typed? Same as the net result of "global warming;" that is, nothing! Between the mid-1940s and the mid-1970s the planet was in a cooling trend. Since the mid-1970s the planet has been in a warming trend... which brings us right back to -- excuse me a moment while I feed a few punch cards through the Eniac -- which brings us right back to, climatologically speaking, the temperatures of the mid-1940s!
Coincidentally, this whole cycle started about the time that ENIAC first came online, 33-1/3 rpm LP records were introduced, bikini swimsuits were showcased in Paris, and the first underwater atomic test was detonated at Bikini atoll. These coincidences, at least insofar as they can be linked to climate change, may be overstated. Then again, bikini swimwear and Bikini atoll... that looks like a lot more than a twenty percent of three one-hundredths of one percent correlation to me. When you factor global warming into bikini swimwear sales figures, and then calculate how much "hotter" beach girls look in bikinis as compared to bathing costumes... well, the debate starts to get rather silly at this point.