Remember “Climategate?” An anonymous hacker obtained hundreds of emails sent between climate scientists at a British university, and climate change non-believers seized on them as proof climate change is a conspiracy.
More recently, Judith Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, pointed out what she termed the “inconvenient truth” in research on climate warming: a pause in significant surface warming of the Earth for the past 15 years.
So there is wide disagreement over whether the surface of the planet is warming at the rate what I shall call Al Gorists contend, and whether the warming is the result of fossil fuels being combusted into the atmosphere decade upon decade at very high rates.
I am not here this morning to, um, fan the flames of those points of contention. I have been reading a leaked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft report, though, and what I find of most interest so far are some factoids uncontested by science:
The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by more than 20% since 1958 when systematic atmospheric measurements began, and by about 40% since 1750. The increase is a result of human activity, virtually all due to burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, and a small contribution from cement production. Present-day concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) substantially exceed the range of concentrations recorded in ice cores during the past 800,000 years.
So it’s uncontested by science that we all are breathing air with 20% more carbon dioxide in it than when I was a young tad. Regardless of whether this has caused major global warming, it just makes me wonder what a 20% increase in CO2 in the air does to the human system. It would be interesting to see whether, for instance, there’s a similar correlation of cancers in human beings over the same period of time. And asthma, allergies and respiratory maladies. Just sayin’…
As for the warming part, as a non-scientist and mere observer, I would say the odds are very good that all the extra carbon probably does have to do with facts such as 2012 being the warmest year on record in the continental U.S. That and the fact that I have been growing in the ground, for the past three years, certain tropical plants that should not be able to survive the winters in USDA Zone 9a, which is where I reside.
But like I said, I’m not here this morning to debate whether global warming is real, just to marvel at the wonderment of sucking in bonus carbon dioxide every year and not yet developing parasitic lichens.