Letter to the Editor: What really is global warming?


Never mind Al Gore, the Leftists, or any anecdotes about sea ice. Global warming is not a theory, it is a measurement.

The Royal Society began computing a statistic they called the Average Earth Surface Temperature, from Royal Navy observations, hundreds of years ago. Like most climate data, the plotted line is a zig-zag, showing high variability, but around 1850 the plot began taking on a distinct gradual upward trend. By 1900 the climate community was consumed with two questions: 1. Is the increase a real trend or just normal random variation?, and 2. If not random, what is the cause? In the 1920s the Nobel winning chemist Svante Arrhenius showed that was possible for the observed warming to be caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The state of the science was unchanged in 1972 when I took a class in climate science in graduate school – the upward trend persisted and remained unexplained. We were told that it would take a lot more data and a lot of computing power to determine whether the warming trend was real and correlated with any other. By 1990 scientists had both the computing power and the data to conclude that the observed warming exceeded any possible natural variation and that it was correlated with only one other trend, the increase in carbon dioxide in the troposphere. This was before Al Gore, The Left, or the Chinese government ever heard of global warming. A concerted effort by the fossil fuel industry was applied in an attempt to silence American government scientists who had reached the conclusion that, although the natural cycles of solar output and earth sun distance should have been causing a decline in AEST for decades instead of an increase, the average earth surface temperature was nonetheless up almost two Fahrenheit degrees higher than it was when the AEST was first calculated, due primarily to the combustion of coal.

There is a lot of complicated physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy involved in understanding this phenomenon and accounting for the fact that raising the average earth surface temperature does not raise the temperature everywhere at once, and that one of the effects of an average warming includes some local increases in cold weather for reasons involving the manner in which the atmosphere and the ocean circulate.

Whether or not a given glacier or ice sheet is melting faster or slower than expected is not really pertinent. What is pertinent is that the average is up, by enough to change the circulation of the air, and enough to throw the almanac out the window. Nobody knows for sure how fast the ice will melt or how high the sea level will get. We do know that lots of land ice we used to see is now gone and that the mean sea level has in fact risen enough to inundate historically tidally emergent islands in the Pacific. Sea ice, by the way, being already afloat, will not raise sea level when it melts. If polar ice does disappear, so will the wildlife that depends upon it.

Models of carbon dioxide and thermodynamics alone show that the increase due to carbon is nearly four degrees, which is in fact offset by the orbit driven decrease of about two degrees, leaving a net increase of about two degrees. If you have not studied the relevant subjects you have no idea whether any of this is valid. I have taken the classes. I have read some of the original research in the journal Science. I suggest that instead of mocking the messengers you go find out what the facts are. Even an idiot can be right, once in a while, and even a genius can be wrong. Facts are not a matter of opinion. Global warming is a fact. The real question is what to do about it.

David P. Vernon
Tucson, AZ


The Letter to the Editor policy for the Southern Arizona News-Examiner is submit the letter via email to soaznewsx.com@gmail.com. Include your name, address and phone number. Only your name and city/state will be published. Only letters with coherent thoughts will be published.



Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Southern Arizona News-Examiner