Letter: The Earth is out of heat balance
Posted on Dec 24, 2013 - 09:35 AM Printer Friendly View
Last week, a writer indicated surprise that I agreed with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s position that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing global warming (“Climate change a tool to redistribute wealth,” DeWitt Edwards, Dec. 19 Readers Write).
The “Panel” consists of thousands of scientists that voluntarily contributed to the 2,000-plus page report on climate science that was released in late September. This is the fifth such report with the fourth being released in 2007; all reports have been increasingly positive that man-made carbon dioxide is causing global warming. The current level of confidence is comparable to scientists’ belief that tobacco can cause cancer.
In 1896, a paper by Svante Arrhenius was published in Britain documenting his work showing that if human emissions of CO2 doubled from the then-current 287 ppm in the atmosphere to 574 ppm the temperature of the earth would increase by approximately 5.5 degrees F. We are currently at 397 ppm in the atmosphere and the global temperature has increased 1.5 degrees F; mostly since 1970. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing at over 2 ppm per year. The world governments have all agreed that an increase of 3.6 degrees F is the danger limit for catastrophic climate change. Do the math.
Earth had its warmest November on record. To date, 2013 is tied with 2002 as the fourth warmest year on record. Each of the past four decades has been significantly warmer than the previous decade. The Earth is out of heat balance and even if we stopped adding CO2 to the atmosphere today, Earth’s temperature would continue to climb until balance is achieved.
I suggest the readers of the Gazette-Journal visit VIMS on one of their open houses and ask any of the scientists about the causes of global warming and climate change and the impact on the environment. It is important that the discussion focus on adaptation to and mitigation of climate change.
Gregory T. Haugan, Ph.D.