These deniers initially rejected the very idea that climate change was even taking place. More recently, even they have been forced to accept the realities of climate change, so their current arguments depend on vague references to the “cyclic” nature of weather and climate.
I thought I would take this opportunity to try to think through some of their objections to see if I could better understand their positions.
I understand that light waves representing significant amounts of solar energy arrive at the Earth, flow through the relatively transparent atmosphere and hit the surface of the Earth, where the radiant energy is either (1) absorbed by the surface, which is heated up and also re-radiated back into the atmosphere as infrared (heat) waves, which move upward and are lost to the vacuum of space, or (2) converted by plants — especially trees — into chemically stored energy reserves.
Those reserves remain within the surface of the earth for many thousands of years while at the same time consuming carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas that is opaque to infrared energy and tends to keep re-radiated infrared energy from escaping into space. Thus it increases its warming of the Earth, which upsets this combination of heating, re-radiating and storing that has historically resulted in an environment on this Earth that is oxygen-rich and conducive to wide varieties of life forms.
Moreover, this balanced energy environment cannot and will not be upset by human activities because the so-called “natural” factors that cause cyclic changes in the environment and climate are much more important than anything we mere humans could even imagine to do. Because scientists cannot perfectly describe all of the possible effects that human activities could even have on the environment, any explanation that they might have at this point is flawed and subject to denial.
That includes one case where increased surface areas of cement and blacktop (cities) that have been constructed near standardized temperature measuring sites lead to increased warming (often called urban heat islands) and are recorded by these same standardized temperature devices. Those recordings lead to false readings of “global warming” — which should be ignored, because, for some reason, deniers believe that there is no warming of other surfaces or of nearby structures.
It seems to me to ask that they defend their answers to the following questions:
- Why must the standardized temperature devices, which record increased temperatures under these circumstances, be ignored?
- What is the mechanism that forces carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas, to be transparent to infra-red radiation, when we know that it is not?
- Why is the introduction of 10,000 years of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a period of 200 years not expected to have an adverse impact on the balanced weather and climate cycle, when far lower amounts of CO2 injected into the atmosphere by large volcanic eruptions have made measurable impacts on climate?
- Are all of the violations of well-established scientific laws and principles acceptable to support the “natural cycle” explanations for global climate change?
Published, Monday, March 23, 2015 in the Winona Daily News.