Hot Air
Why the Global Climate Treaty is Doomed
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  • DiogenesDespairs

    This article is shot through with the assumption that anthropogenic global warming is a significant factor. It is not. Here are some crucial, verifiable facts – with citations – everyone needs to know about human-generated carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming.

    The fact is, there has been global warming, but the contribution of human-generated carbon dioxide is necessarily so minuscule as to be nearly undetectable. Here’s why:

    Carbon dioxide, considered the main vector for human-caused global warming, is some 0.038% of the atmosphere[1]- a trace gas. Water vapor varies from 0% to 4%[2], and should easily average 1% or more[3] near the Earth’s surface, where the greenhouse effect would be most important, and is about three times more effective[4] a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So water vapor is at least 25 times more prevalent and three times more effective; that makes it at least 75 times more important to the greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide[5]. The TOTAL contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect is therefore 0.013 or less. The total human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide since the start of the industrial revolution has been estimated at about 25%[6]. So humans’ carbon dioxide greenhouse effect is a quarter of 0.013, works out to about 0.00325. Total warming of the Earth by the greenhouse effect is widely accepted as about 33 degrees Centigrade, raising average temperature to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. So the contribution of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, or under 0.1 degree Centigrade. Global warming over the last century is thought by many to be about 0.6 degrees Centigrade.

    But that’s only the beginning. We’ve had global warming for more than 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age, and there is evidence temperatures were actually somewhat warmer 9,000 years ago and again 4,500 to 8,000 years ago than they are today[7]. Whatever caused that, it was not human activity. It was not all those power plants and factories and SUVs being operated by Stone Age cavemen while chipping arrowheads out of bits of flint. Whatever the cause was, it melted the glaciers that in North America once extended south to Long Island and parts of New York City[8] into virtually complete disappearance (except for a few mountain remnants). That’s one big greenhouse effect! If we are still having global warming – and I suppose we could presume we are, given this 10,000 year history – it seems highly likely that it is still the overwhelmingly primary cause of continued warming, rather than our piddling 0.00325 contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    Yet even that trend-continuation today needs to be proved. Evidence is that the Medieval Warm Period centered on the 1200s was somewhat warmer than we are now[9], and the climate was clearly colder in the Little Ice Age in the 1600s than it is now[10]. So we are within the range of normal up-and-down fluctuations without human greenhouse contributions that could be significant, or even measurable.

    The principal scientists arguing for human-caused global warming have been demonstrably disingenuous[11], and now you can see why. They have proved they should not be trusted.

    The idea that we should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and hamstringing the economy of the entire world to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is beyond ludicrous in light of the facts above; it is insane. Furthermore, it sucks attention and resources from seeking the other sources of warming and from coping with climate change and its effects in realistic ways. The true motivation underlying the global warming movement is almost certainly ideological and political in nature, and I predict that anthropogenic Global Warming, as currently presented, will go down as the greatest fraud of all time. It makes Ponzi and Madoff look like pikers by comparison.

    [1] Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition

    by Michael Pidwirny Concentration varies slightly with the growing season in the northern hemisphere. HYPERLINK “”

    [2] ibid.

    [3] HALOE v2.0 Upper Tropospheric Water Vapor Climatology Claudette Ojo, Hampton University; et al.. HYPERLINK “” See p. 4.The 0 – 4% range is widely accepted among most sources. This source is listed for its good discussion of the phenomena determining that range. An examination of a globe will show that tropical oceans (near high end of range) are far more extensive than the sum of the earth’s arctic and antarctic regions and tropical-zone deserts (all near the low end). Temperate zone oceans are far more extensive than temperate-zone desert. This author’s guess of an average of 2% or more seems plausible. I have used “1% or more” in an effort to err on the side of understatement.

    [4 NIST Chemistry Webbook, Please compare the IR absorption spectra of water and carbon dioxide. ] HYPERLINK “”

    [5] Three quarters of the atmosphere and virtually all water vapor are in the troposphere. Including all the atmosphere would change the ratios to about 20 times more prevalent and 60 times more effective. However, the greenhouse effect of high-altitude carbon dioxide on lower-altitude weather and the earth’s surface seems likely to be small if not nil.

    [6] National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. HYPERLINK “” The estimated 90ppm increase in carbon dioxide, 30% above the base of 280 ppm, to a recent reading of 370 ppm, equates to just under 25% of present concentration, the relevant factor in estimating present contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    [7] Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    [8] New York Nature – The nature and natural history of the New York City region. Betsy McCully

    [9] Global Warming: A Geological Perspective John P. Bluemle HYPERLINK “” This article, published by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, is drawn from a paper by the author in Environmental Geosciences, 1999, Volume 6, Number 2, pp. 63-75. Note particularly the chart on p.4.

    [10] Ibid.

    [11] Wikileaks: Climatic Research Unit emails, data, models, 1996-2009 HYPERLINK “,_data,_models,_1996-2009”,_data,_models,_1996-2009.

    See also HYPERLINK “” and

    HYPERLINK “” and, more diplomatically: HYPERLINK “” Et al.


    What initially troubled me was the aberrant behavior of the climate research unit at East Anglia University, which has been the main data source for AGW arguments. They initially refused (!) to reveal their algorithms and data on the grounds that they were proprietary(!!). They responded to critics with ad hominem attacks and efforts to block their publication in scientific journals. Now, as I am sure you know, this is not how one does honest science, in which you PUBLISH your data and methodology and invite critical comment to ferret out error or oversights. It took the now-famous Wikileaks “Climategate” to pry loose the data and expose their machinations. Yet despite the devastating blow these revelations should have to their credibility, the AGW “cause” has taken on a life of its own.

    Fundamentally, the argument seems to rest on a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc – after this, therefore because of this. We see a rise in temperature and a rise in (principally) carbon dioxide, and therefore conclude one must have caused the other. It does not necessarily follow at all. There can be other causes entirely behind both phenomena, and as you see above, almost certainly there are. Beyond that, I have encountered numerous assertions of fact that cannot add up given the physical properties of water vapor and carbon dioxide that go unchallenged. One-sided arguments proliferate and people arguing the other side are frequently denounced as being employed by business interests rather than rebutted on the merits.

    In sum, I have not come lightly to the conclusion that the AGW argument as it applies to carbon dioxide is largely untrue and certainly does not account for more than a very small, nearly negligible part of the phenomena we are seeing. The implications of widespread assertions of and belief in such an untruth are staggering, and potentially enormously destructive. It is unwise indeed to let oneself be stampeded in this matter, and stampede is clearly what many have been and are trying to induce.

    I can understand politicians behaving this way; a carbon tax or carbon trading regime would allow enormous revenues to fall into their hands. I can understand “Progressive” ideologues; it logically leads to enormous expansion of government power over industry, the economy, and the daily life of individuals, which they regard as a good thing. I understand the environmentalists; they want to shrink the size and impact on the environment of modern civilization. But responsible citizens need to put aside such considerations.

    • Andrew Allison

      Well said! For what it’s worth, the chart at is instructive. It illustrates warming and cooling cycles with a roughly 75 year periodicity. The ups are faster than the downs, so the trend is up. Interestingly, the trendline is ~0.6 degrees per century. History suggests that the current downward trend will continue until about 2026 regardless of how much CO2 China and India emit. As you point out, surface temperature is at recent highs. As a result, the oceans are (slowly) warming and we expect sea levels to rise for some time. It’s pretty obvious to me (as it apparently was the Mayor Bloomberg) where we should be spending our money, namely mitigation not futile efforts at climate control.

      • John Wondra

        The problem I have is that everyone seems to accept the CAGW advocates premise that the warming trend BEGAN with the Industrial Age; and your HADCRUT graph only serves to emphasize that.
        My understanding is that the trend began with the end of a much cooler period, much longer ago than 1850. “Skeptics” who accept such framing of the issue have given away half or more of their argument.

        • Andrew Allison

          John, it’s not my chart. It’s from the UK Met Office (which I trust rather more than the AGW cheerleading US Agency which, among other sins, promotes the “97%” lie). I don’t think that it suggests that warming began with the industrial revolution. 1850 is as far back as the measurements go. The chart actually shows falling temperature during the height of the Industrial Revolution,
          You are correct that the planet has been warming since the last Ice Age. The temperature records for the period prior to 1850 are “reconstructed” and there are several reconstructions ( They all suggest that a period of relatively rapid warming began in the first half of the 17th Century, well before the invention of the Newcombe Steam Engine in 1712 heralded the birth of the Industrial Revolution. There’s no question that the planet has been warming, the issue is whether the cause is anthropogenic.
          The fact that the current warming started well before the Industrial Revolution and doesn’t appear to have accelerated despite the exponential increase in atmospheric CO2 since then suggests that CO2 has a minor impact. In summary, the planet has been warming at a measly 0.6 degrees per century since the mid-17th Century, and nobody knows why. The fraud being perpetrated by the AGW alarmists is to use the upswing of the the recent cycle to project much greater temperature increases than have, in fact, occurred over the past 350 years and to insist that the cause is CO2.

    • Arkeygeezer

      I agree thoroughly with your post. However, anthropogenic global warming is not classic science; it is POLITICAL SCIENCE aka male bovine defalcation. Political science enables its practitioners to make money by government grant, tax transfers, and foreign aid.

  • Rick Johnson

    Repeat after me – global temperatures have not increased for nearly two decades. THE WORLD IS NOT WARMING!

    Anyone who claims humans are causing global warming is preaching a Green religion. Their claims are not backed by science or evidence.

    • Andrew Allison

      Whilst the fact that average global temperature has not increased for almost 18 years demolishes the CO2 hypothesis, the world has actually been warming — just not at anything close to the rate which AGW hysterics claim (see above).

  • John Wondra

    Don’t the ever-increasing skepticism, the AGW advocates’ defensiveness, and the revelation of more holes in the “settled science” have anything to do with reluctance to commit even more than has already been?

  • ShadrachSmith

    Why is it you want to reduce global CO2 emissions?
    I missed that part 🙂

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