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Chapter Five - Land of the Other- Wither the Weather?!

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Blog by Dave McArthur 2 March 2008

Most readers will now be aware that we may have entered a phase in which Earth’s average surface temperature is cooling down – some estimate the cooling down to be in the range of 0.65C to 0.75C this last year. Perhaps at last we can put the Carbon Trading industry on ice.

From  Daily Tech.

"Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

No more than anecdotal evidence, to be sure. But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously."

An article in today’s New York Times titled Skeptic on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell contains a range of views. The general suggestion in the NYT article is that the cooling down is a result of the La Nina phase we are in. The Daily Tech article suggests that cooling down is more caused by the recent sudden reduction in solar activity. Daily Tech refers to a previous article: 

However, researchers at DMI continued to work, eventually discovering what they believe to be the link. The key factor isn't changes in solar output, but rather changes in the sun's magnetosphere A stronger field shields the earth more from cosmic rays, which act as "seeds" for cloud formation. The result is less cloud cover, and a warming planet. When the field weakens, clouds increases, reflecting more light back to space, and the earth cools off.”

This quote from the end  paragraph of the NYT article encapsulates some of the non-science being articulated by our so-called scientists:

“Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan who has spoken out about the need to reduce greenhouse gases, disagrees with Dr. Michaels on many issues, but concurred on this point.

“When I get called by CNN to comment on a big summer storm or a drought or something, I give the same answer I give a guy who asks about a blizzard,” Dr. Schmidt said. “It’s all in the long-term trends. Weather isn’t going to go away because of climate change. “There is this desire to explain everything that we see in terms of something you think you understand, whether that’s the next ice age coming or global warming.”

Is Gavin saying weather is or is not part of climate change and that one or the other is not the norm on Earth?

Is he saying global warming ceases to happen in ice ages?

And if he does (as quoted) evoke images of Earth in a “greenhouse” as in “greenhouse gases” how on Earth does he propose we teach our children the fantastic dynamic relationship between solar activity and cloud formation and how this relationship affects the thermal balances on the surface of our planet?

This latest situation of a possible cooling down reinforces my argument that we need a national review of our use of key energy and climate symbols. 

As long term readers of this blog know I have mounted extensive arguments against the use of the greenhouse symbol to convey atmospheric processes. I have also exposed some of mistruths our children are learning from our Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change Office, the Green Party, NGOs (Forest and Bird, Greenpeace etc). An example is their omission from their education materials of the fact that water vapour exists and is a trace gas with a powerful warming capacity. I have documented their untrue claims, for instance, that “carbon dioxide is the dominant greenhouse gas".

The dangers of these mistruths come home to roost at times like this when the possibility occurs of solar activity-cloud formation links. The above vested interests have framed the education material so our children are left with a reduced capacity to understand the thermodynamics of our planet’s surface. If water vapour is not in their mental equations how can they are unable to begin to reflect the reality of changes in our climate?

The colonisation of the carbon symbol by the Carbon Trading sector, which includes most of the above groups, to serve its narrow interests presents another danger: it teaches our children they can trade off or offset the impacts of their use of carbon on atmospheric balances and that they can be “carbon neutral.” 
The logic of the sector’s argument is that we have to reduce carbon emissions to prevent the planets surface from heating up. The same logic says we should increase carbon emissions to prevent it cooling down.

So do we offset our activities by increasing carbon emissions? Do SUV driver now earn credits to offset the activities of cyclists and walkers? Do the latter get pinged with penalties for not emitting more carbon emissions?  (Funny thought - that is exactly the current situation anyway with non-car owners contributing to systems of subsidies to car owners of at least three dollars to every dollar the car owner pays for a gallon of petrol or diesel.)

Do all those who have been paid billions of dollars for “reducing carbon emissions” have to return their money with interest because longer term their activities destabilised the thermal balances that sustain humanity?

My point is and has always been that we are Carbon Beings and the concept that we can ever be carbon neutral is non-science. 
With this knowledge and sentience of our roles in the carbon flux we understand that, for instance, fossil fuels are a fantastic eonic resource that once burnt it will not be replaced for further eons. We understand that the biomass potential of Earth is limited and can only sustain a limited range of activities of the 6.6 billion human beings on the planet.

Let us perform a quick mental exercise in our roles as Carbon Beings. Let us allow the possibility that water vapour is the dominant “Warmer Trace Gas” on the planet and that there is some hitherto unrecognised relationship between its formation and distribution with solar activity. Also let us imagine that a period of reduced sun spot activity is about to result in a cooling down of Earth’s surface. 

The cooling down will reduce global food stores which are already in a precarious state. Already we are seeing how the use of biomass by the world’s rich elite for ethanol to run their cars is impacting badly on global food reserves - and this is in a time of relatively favourable harvest conditions. It is clear to many of us that our current use of our biomass potential is already unsustainable. Billions of lives are already at major risk of sudden famine, especially as access to cheap mineral oil ceases. Even a small amount of cooling down could devastate crop yields and threaten our very existence as Carbon Beings.

As mentioned Carbon Trading logic says we should counter any cooling down by investing in larger and even less efficient cars and other thermal plant.

Compare this trading ethos with that of a valuing ethos. Children educated in the latter will be far more aware of their carbon potential. They will also be more likely to understand the potent role of water vapour in maintaining the thermal balances that sustain us because the interests of the Carbon Trading sector will not pervert education material as they do at present. As a result our more carbon-wise children will adopt very different strategies to the current ones of their parents. 

Their focus will be to personally put a high value on carbon and conserve our fossil fuels for their own children so they can inherit this amazing resource and have it as reserve to help them survive a cooler period on Earth without mass starvation and slaughter. 
These educated children will put great store on insulating dwellings and converting cars and jets into greenhouses to grow food. This latter activity will have the additional benefit of releasing a large amount of capital at present tied up maintaining car and jet infrastructure. This capital will instead be invested  in the creation of more powerful and resilient broadband, rail and shipping systems. (Transport becomes much more difficult and expensive as the temperature drops.)

What is interesting about this little mental exercise is that it generates ideas and practices that also work to reduce the risks to us if it turns out Earth’s surface is, on balance, heating up because of our carbon emissions.

And there is more risk reduction. Last week mineral oil is traded at a record high of $US102 per 42 gallon barrel.  This is still very cheap and still places little value on the resource. Even at this low price  nations whose economies are based on the waste of most of the potential of mineral oil are at risk of implosion.

In my recent blog on our flawed education system I noted that the people in countries like the USA, the UK, Japan and  New Zealand (my country) waste most of the 25000 man-hours equivalent of labour in each of the barrels. For instance, in many situations cars use only a couple of hundred of those 25000 man-hours for moving. Most of this huge resource (24000 man-hours plus) is transformed into unusable heat. As a result our credit systems – based on the notion that such waste can be maintained because oil is a cheap and everlasting resource – are about to collapse.

We have forgotten how we are Carbon Beings and we abuse our carbon potential. Thus we call the nascent implosion of our economic system as a “subprime mortgage collapse” when it is really a “carbon use crisis” or “mineral oil credit collapse”. The source of our current wealth - mineral oil and gas which does so much of our lifting, pulling, pushing and heating - is now becoming more expensive. Our wealth is evaporating with resultant inflation. 
We are now exiting the Cheap Oil/Gas Age.

In that blog I outline why the current Anglo-American education curriculum is a recipe for misery and works to destroy civilisation.  This is because the curriculum framework actively destroys science. I provide links to what I believe is a more sustaining curriculum framework that supports science. 

This framework links to a prototype index I am preparing (when I can  get a spare moment) of sustainable uses of our key symbols such as the carbon, atmosphere, greenhouse and trace symbols. The objective is to create uses of these symbols that conserve their maximum potential so our children enjoy greater options (hope) and have an increased chance of survival. Maybe my proposed definitions can be a starter for a sustaining debate before our current abuse of these precious symbols destroys us.

For those new to my blog, the accompanying cartoon biography was drawn after attending the  national conference of New Zealand Environmental Educators (NZAEE) in 2002. 
In the cartoon Hon Marion Hobbs, Minister for the Environment announces the Government’s priorities and completely omits any mention of New Zealand’s possible impact on the thermal balances of the atmosphere. This is extraordinary as New Zealand’s economy is dominated by agriculture and we have high carbon emissions per capita. However her omission is understandable because beneath the public rhetoric then and now the Government actually believes New Zealand’s carbon emissions are “inconsequential” (quote Barry Carbon, CEO of the Ministry for the Environment) and the Government believes we New Zealanders, especially our businesses, will benefit greatly and have little reason to change our behaviour/alter carbon emissions because of our large forests (“carbon sinks”) and hydro-electric generating potential. Since drawing the cartoon 5 years ago both these Government beliefs are being proven unfounded.  

Junk Joules (associated with high-risk, short-term considerations) is delighted with the Minister's speech - as were most conference delegates. Bonus Joules (associated with low-risk, longer-term considerations) is appalled.

Note: The other strong interest of Hon Marion Hobbs is education.

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