Monday, January 28, 2013

Anthropogenic Global Warming

Well it's been awhile since I wrote anything mostly because I started a new job and have been adjusting to the night shift. But now that I'm moving back to days and my sleep schedule isn't quite as messed up, I hope to write more. I have nearly fifteen unfinished posts languishing in my queue, so hopefully I'll be able to finish up one every week for awhile. That's my goal. I decided to post about Anthropogenic Global Warming to get started because it's so easy to write about and it's probably a one shot post at least for now.


Anthropogenic Global Warming is the preferred name given to "global warming" or more recently "climate change" by skeptics because it emphasizes the actual thrust of the theory: observed warming is caused by human activity. It's pretty important to make that distinction since according to our best data, the earth's average temperature has risen about 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius in the last one hundred years or so. Nobody is really disputing that, though we know for instance that before 1979 when much more accurate satellite observations began most of this data was recorded from thermometers by scattered volunteers all over the world, leading to strange things like conclusions about the entire Arctic Circle depending upon less temperature data points than most cities. There weren't exactly a whole lot of people volunteering to take regular temperature readings at the North Pole one hundred years ago. Because of the way science is taught today, most people don't think twice about how we know what the global average temperature is. We created the Internet. We know exactly what the global average temperature is right? Well, since 1979 we have fairly controlled, reliable and standard methods for determining that, but the methods going back a hundred years are far less reliable, standardized and controlled. Before that it is much worse, basically anecdotal. I will not discuss the data in this post mostly because when I began studying the issue in depth a few years ago I became convinced by the evidence that the global warming people are correct about the warming over the last hundred years, such as it is. In general I tend to go with historical evidence and observations made by people who lived during the time in question. It just makes more sense to me to trust their thoughts and observations since they are in a much better position than we are to actually know what happened. It's a big reason why I'm a creationist and don't like historical Jesus studies, but let's not open that can of worms right now. It has always seemed to me supremely arrogant to assume that today, because we are really smart and have super awesome technology, can see into the past better than the people who were actually there. If there is one thing people of times past are certain to be better at than we are, it's knowledge of times past. So I have accepted the basic conclusion of a slight increase in global average temperature as the best possible conclusion from the rather bad data we have. That is one point of three basic claims of AGW, and can be stated simply:

1. Global average temperatures have risen about a half to one degree Celsuis in the past one hundred years.

The second point can be stated as follows:

2. This temperature trend is a deviation from environmental norms and is caused by human beings burning a large amount of fossil fuels in the last one hundred years, releasing abnormal amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere resulting in a positive feedback loop leading to runaway temperature increases across the entire globe.

Phew! Catch all that? I admit that it should probably be several points, but hey three is a good number...or something. Point three can be briefly summarized:

3. THIS IS A BFD!!!!!

Hilarious Rant

As you may have discerned, my disdain for point two is surpassed only by my disdain for point three, but point three is not really all that interesting. Let's leave aside the fact that most of the universe is hovering around absolute zero, not exactly a temperature anyone would set their thermostat to, and that we are lucky not only to not be freezing to death but also lucky to not have drastic hundred and thousand degree temperature swings every day like some planets. Forget the fact that increased precipitation and crop production is undeniably a lucky turn of events for a rapidly increasing human population. Let's leave aside the fact that the popular myths that global warming leads to worse storms and rising sea levels are no longer accepted even by AGW proponents. Let's leave aside the fact that the entire global warming movement was political in nature from the very beginning and has been championed almost entirely by a political movement which has completely unrelated aims for greater control over entire economies and attacking successful nations.  Let's also leave aside the internal contradictions of the modern environmentalist movement, such as claiming that human beings are merely part of the earth's ecosystem yet still commit actions within it that are illegitimate unlike the action of all other participants of the same system. If you really want to claim that human action in the environment has moral implications whereas for instance those methane spewing bovine assholes and giant carbon dioxide factory volcanoes don't, I would suggest the traditional Christian viewpoint of human dominion over the environment. Otherwise there is no reason why humans have some sort of special moral responsibility and humans should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions when those damn cows and volcanoes aren't doing their part. The earth is their home too! I'll just ignore the fact that these so-called "fossil" fuels are just as much a biofuel as ethanol, being made of organic matter that was at one point a part of earth's biosphere, and that burning it has the effect of putting it right back into the biosphere where it belongs so it's carbon, not to mention water, is once again made available to plants which breathe in carbon dioxide, thank God, and breathe out oxygen in its place, thank God, leading to sustainable levels of both gases in our atmosphere and maintaining its ability to sustain life. Let's leave aside the fact that this political movement has failed to make any headway whatsoever and is now politically dead, so any advances must be made by pretending that there was some amazing scientific discoveries in the past few years about the toxicity of carbon dioxide and, oh crap, we should have been regulating it under the Clean Air Act of 1970 all along so we can bypass the entire legislative branch of government to introduce the carbon regulations that coincidentally just failed to pass. Whoops! Silly us. Who knew all these years we've been poisoning each other every time we breath too close? Second-hand breathing lawsuits are going to skyrocket. Better outlaw French kissing too. The danger of exchanging toxic bodily gases is just too great. I can imagine the headlines now: "Bad Breath - The Untold Story of the Oldest Criminal Profession", "Kiss of Death - What Your Lover Won't Tell You About Making Out", "Beyond Safe Sex - Is Your Boyfriend Trying to Kill You?".

Sometimes they just make it too easy. *sigh* Anyway...

But like I said, I'm not going to discuss all of that, because all of the real action occurs around point two. For anyone interested in where all of this nonsense is coming from, point two is the real grind and the fork in the road between those who are capable of thinking straight and those who think of science as a morality play for fifth graders. So let's unpack point two backwards, starting with "positive feedback". Positive feedback is related to point three in that it's the main reason why carbon dioxide emissions are considered a BFD.

Positive Feedback

I could have and should have talked about positive feedback in my previous post on the fiscal cliff. Suppose an entirely fictional government is spending more money than they take in and every year borrows the difference. As long as spending is greater than revenue, the borrowing must happen every year. Obviously if borrowing is required just to sustain spending then none of the previously borrowed money is being paid back. Of course, interest must be paid on the sum total of all the borrowed money from every previous year, and since the amount of total borrowed money increases every year, so do the interest payments. This means that interest payments will grow year by year even if the difference between spending and revenue stayed exactly the same, which it won't because increased interest payments require, you guessed it, increased spending and therefore increased borrowing. Increased borrowing means more increased interest payments and more increased spending and more increased borrowing, etc., etc., etc. This is positive feedback. The consequences of an action feed back into the action itself, generating more of the same at an exponentially increasing rate. This is what an exponential curve looks like:

Unlike a linear function which grows at a constant rate, an exponential function grows at an increasing rate leading to an uncontrolled explosion once you reach a certain point in time. AGW proponents contend that this is exactly what is happening to global average temperatures, which is why they get so worked up about a change  of less than a degree over a hundred years. They are not afraid that global average temps will increase another degree in the next one hundred years. They are afraid the rate of temperature increase itself will grow leading to an exponential rise in global temperatures, which quickly becomes unsustainable like the completely made-up budget of the totally fictional government in the example.

Exponential functions like this accurately model situations in which positive feedback mechanisms are unrestrained by negative feedback, which is just the opposite of positive feedback. So in the example, a negative feedback mechanism would be the willingness of banks to loan money to a profligate borrower and spender approaching the point of no return on an exponential curve. There may reach a point when our fictional government cannot get any more loans because no one is willing to loan them money due to the increased risk of not actually being able to make all those exponentially growing interest payments. Other possible negative feedback mechanisms could be bankruptcy, war, the collapse of said government or simply spending cuts and/or revenue increases. The question, as always, is what negative feedback mechanisms exist and when will they kick in? In the case of a government we have some choice as to when and how much negative feedback we put into the system to keep it from hitting more, ahem, severe negative feedback.

AGW proponents argue that we have the same choice in regards to global temperatures. We can either reduce carbon dioxide emissions or suffer far more drastic consequences sometime in the future. They believe this because according to point two, human-produced carbon dioxide has upset a delicate balance in our atmosphere and the extra carbon dioxide has breached some limit beyond which positive feedback mechanisms kick in. In the previous entirely fictional example above, the magic line beyond which interest payments increase exponentially by paying interest on money borrowed to pay interest, is deficit spending. The moment you start spending more money than you make and borrow to make up the difference, this problem starts happening. In AGW theory, this line was crossed when humans began burning fossil fuels in large amounts for energy. In other words, it began around one hundred years ago when we began using coal and oil in large amounts for energy. Before that, so the story goes, the earth existed in an extremely fragile balance of carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. Now that humans have upset that balance, we have crossed a line beyond which a positive feedback mechanism kicks in. The science of this mechanism will escape most, but basically a couple of things occur which effect the way carbon dioxide mixes with sea water and the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide in the air produces a warming effect of its own, but it is so minor that it doesn't really amount to much, which is why AGW theorists must rely on other positive feedback mechanisms. This minor extra warming increases the vapor pressure of water vapor, which just means there's more water vapor in the air.

So, you may ask, why am I worried about the financial state of our exemplar government and not about rising global temperatures? At this point I could get into a significant digression. Suffice to say that it is not about silver bullet solutions where everyone gets to have their cake and eat it too. It is a cost benefit analysis. As economist Thomas Sowell has wisely stated, there are no solutions. There are trade-offs. How bad are the consequences if we reduce spending versus going farther up the exponential debt curve? How bad are the consequences of reducing carbon dioxide emissions versus allowing global temps to rise? These are value judgments, and so there can be legitimate differences of opinion depending upon what the actual consequences are for different courses of action. But that's more an argument over point three. In the debate over budgets, it's somewhat legitimate since the basic mathematical conclusion is obvious. Thankfully in the case of AGW we can stop the argument before it gets to point three. As always with science, the devil is in the details, so let's look at them and how the debate over AGW has evolved over the past decade or so with respect to point two.

Consider an exponential graph compared to a sine graph:

Let's say that the x-axis, the horizontal line, is time and the y-axis, the vertical line, represents right now in the timeline. That means to the right of the vertical line is the future and the left is the past. The curved line on both graphs represents two different possible representations of the earth's average temperature for the past one thousand years to the left and the next thousand years in the future to the right. Now, the only actual data we have is for the past one hundred years, which corresponds to a small portion of the curve before the vertical line signifying today. You'll notice that both curves basically behave the same way as they cross the y-axis. They are both going up and have been going up for a short time. The difference in the future though, is that the exponential curve explodes into infinity while the sine curve hits a maximum temperature and then goes back down. Obviously there is no way to tell for certain how the real temperature will behave in the future, so the only possible clues we have are how it has behaved in the past. But we already noticed that the data we have for the past one hundred years fits both curves fine. So how do we determine which curve is a more accurate representation of global temperatures for the two thousand year period we want to know about? Well, there is no way to tell for certain, but one thing we do know is we don't know the future at all. Meteorologists currently can only make half-assed predictions about the weather up to one or two weeks in advance, much less a hundred or a thousand years. But what about the past? Is there some way to determine what past global temperatures looked like during the past one thousand years instead of just the past one hundred? This is of course the crucial factor in deciding whether one believes global temperatures follow a sine curve, normally moving up and down but bounded by negative feedback at the tops and bottoms (local maxima and minima for the math geeks), or an exponential curve that has remained nearly exactly stable until a recent explosive upward trend.

Erasing the MWP

Before the advent of AGW, some scientists and historians were interested in this question as a matter of simple academic interest and came to a pretty universally accepted conclusion based mostly on historical evidence, that is observations recorded by the people who lived during the past one thousand years: there was a period from roughly the 11th to 13th centuries of increased temperature which has come to be called the Medieval Warming Period. Again, before AGW, it was almost universally accepted that the MWP was very close in temperature to today. If anything, it was actually warmer than it is now. The historical evidence from medieval Europe for the MWP was so widespread there was never really any controversy about this until the 90s, when, just a few decades after the global cooling scare of the 70s, we entered into the current warming scare. In the centuries after the MWP the earth went through what has been called the Little Ice Age, a period of cold temperatures, and is now on the uptrend once again. So considering the evidence, we would assume the sine curve is basically correct and the exponential (or linear for that matter) is incorrect and can rest assured that temperatures will probably rise to a maximum, stop and then go back down again. We can rest assured that temperatures can rise without significant burning of fossil fuels, and therefore we have no particular evidence-based reasons to believe that burning fossil fuels increases global average temperature. So what happened? Why did so many people suddenly converge on what was once a minor academic discipline and come to the exact opposite conclusion?

To put it bluntly, politicians at the United Nations decided to use their power to pressure scientists into making the MWP disappear. We know this happened. The emails and other files that were revealed to the world in the Climategate scandal were confirmed as genuine by the people they were hacked from. Here is an excerpt from one of the emails, written by climate scientist Keith Briffa to Phil Jones at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia where the emails were hacked from and who conveniently destroyed the raw temperature data they had collected which formed the basis of their calculated global average temperature for the last one hundred years, keeping only what they called the "value-added data" (lol), and Michael Mann, the professor at Penn State currently suing National Review magazine for accusing him of academic fraud, discussing their recent meeting with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN group:

"I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. We don't have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies) some unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter. For the record, I do believe that the proxy data do show unusually warm conditions in recent decades. I am not sure that this unusual warming is so clear in the summer responsive data. I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago."[emphasis added]

Now I invite you to read these emails yourself. Much of the other files that were hacked from CRU's servers were large data files that independent statisticians like Steve McIntyre have been poring over for years now. But let me summarize for you what Briffa, Jones and Mann are discussing here. Basically when the IPCC panel was putting together their Third Assessment Report, they were going over the data being presented for the last one thousand years and noticed the MWP. They decided this didn't fit their preferred political buzzword for global warming, "unprecedented warming", because the MWP nearly a thousand years earlier showed that current warming was not unprecedented and that it has happened before quite naturally with very little burning of fossil fuels. So they asked Briffa and the others if they couldn't find a way to make the MWP disappear. After Briffa alone expressed hesitation on this point, they all eventually decided to try and find a way to do what the IPCC wanted. And why wouldn't they? Global warming is in the best interests of the climate research community, bringing in millions of grant dollars, just as much as its in the interest of transnationalist socialists trying to gain the power required to implement their utopian dream of global redistribution of wealth.

The Hockey Stick Graph

What happened next was a series of scientific malpractices all designed to erase the MWP in various ways, particularly by using tree rings. If you remember your grade school science, trees add about one ring to their trunks in a year. This allows us to figure out how old trees are and also to identify tree rings that formed in the past. We can, for instance, cut down an old tree and count the tree rings back from the surface and identify the ring that was formed in the year 1900, or whatever year we want as long as the tree is old enough. That's all well and good. But what Briffa, Mann and Jones needed was not just to identify tree rings for the past one thousand years, they needed some way to argue that these tree rings recorded temperature over the past one thousand years. In other words, they began using trees as thermometers.

The first thing they had to show is that tree rings are accurate thermometers for a range of time where we actually know the temperatures. In science, there's this concept called a "control". I work in a lab and I used controls every single day for every single test we do. In fact my results would be invalidated if I didn't use controls or if the controls failed to do what they should have done. The reason for this is simple: the only way we know an experiment is working properly is if we run it on a known sample and the experiment gives the result that we know it should give. So for instance, if I'm running a test on a blood sample for HIV antibodies, I use a control that I know contains HIV antibodies and I run the experiment on it to show that the experiment accurately detects HIV antibodies. Then I run samples on it that are not known and the experiment comes out either positive or negative, and I can trust those results. If I did not run a control, how do I know the experiment was working correctly? Quite simply, I don't. Even though at my job we run thousands of samples a day using the exact same methods and the exact same experiments, we still are not allowed to run a single test without also running controls right alongside it because otherwise we cannot trust the results. In the same way, if you want to use tree ring density as a proxy for temperatures over the last one thousand years then you need to show that tree ring densities are accurate proxies for temperatures over the last one hundred years for which we have actual data. Then we can have confidence that tree ring densities are accurate thermometers because they match up with the control. This process is called "calibration" because it "calibrates", or matches, the tree ring density data (in these discussions this is called "tree ring proxies" or "temperature proxies" or just "proxies") to the known temperature record. This is basic science. It must be done and it must work right or we cannot trust any conclusions drawn from these tree ring temperature proxies.

Well guess what? Briffa, Mann and the rest of them involved manipulated the calibration. Just as Tolstoy wrote that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," so Briffa, Mann and the rest of them manipulated their calibrations in their own ways. This is why poring over the data files in the Climategate documents has been such an ugly mess. There is not one single way to explain all that they did, but I will give you some examples:

1. Cherry-picked data - In one study, Mann picked 12 Yamal trees out of 34 that just happened to show a one thousand year flatline and a recent higher peak. Putting all 34 of the trees that were actually sampled revealed nothing more than statistical noise. This study should have been rejected as a failed methodology. Instead Mann cherry-picked the data so it calibrated properly and then basically used the statistical noise as a flatline to erase the MWP.

2.  Hide the decline - In a study that ended up in the IPCC's report, they cutoff the proxy data at 1961 and substituted a completely different set of data for after 1961, that is the recorded temperature data or the "real temps", because they couldn't get the proxy data to calibrate with the real temps after 1961. They did the same thing with other data sets and different years. The temperature was rising and the proxy data wasn't, so they, in their own words, hid the decline in some cases by literally hiding it behind other trend lines on the same graph, in other cases cutting it off, and in still other cases replacing it completely with real temps. This is sometimes called the problem of "divergence" in these discussions because the proxies in these studies diverge from the real temps, and thus their results are untrustworthy.

3. Statistical manipulation - Statistics is needed in studying large amounts of data, and with statistics comes the ability to manipulate the outcome by messing with your statistical methods. This happened to varying degrees in the data files revealed in the Climategate scandal, in many instances recognized and recorded by other internal programmers trying to make sense of the data after it had been generated. (This particular set of excerpts also references the "hide the decline" technique.) The last I heard skeptics have concluded that most of these advanced statistical manipulations did not actually make it into the published results, but there is no way to be sure since much of the data is being hidden or has already been destroyed. We do know that they were at least playing with fraudulent statistical manipulations. It means they knew very well that the calibration of their tree ring proxies wasn't working.

But hey, once they faked their way past the calibration stage, they were able to create the infamous hockey stick graph, basically an exponential curve with a flat line prior to the modern temperature record, and proudly present it to the IPCC. The IPCC got what they wanted: a scientific erasure of the Medieval Warming Period and the removal of an obvious sticking point for their preferred political argument that recent warming is "unprecedented". Seek and you will find right?

Absent anything that changes this situation, I will accept that global temperatures have been rising slightly in the last one hundred years or so, but I do not believe it is the first time ever on planet earth that temperatures have been this high. That means there's no evidence-based reasons to believe that higher temps are caused by higher atmospheric carbon dioxide any more than by higher usage of airplanes or radio frequencies over the same period.

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation

Say this to any scientist. Really, do it. They will nod their heads sagely and agree to its wisdom, and it's not difficult to understand why. Correlations can be found all over the place. As I noted above, there's probably a correlation behind the increasing use of radio frequencies and increasing carbon dioxide. That doesn't mean one is causing the other. Just because you can arrange something into a trend line over time, then do it again with another set of data, and roughly match them together has no bearing on the question of causation. This is basically what I've been discussing this entire time. Despite all the fraudulent activity and bogus reasoning, even if these guys were correct in all their claims, everything they say would amount to nothing more than a correlation between rising carbon dioxide levels and rising temperatures. That doesn't automatically imply a causal link between the two. Furthermore, even if there is some causal link, it doesn't prove anything about which way the causal relation goes. Maybe higher atmospheric carbon dioxide causes increases in temperature. Maybe increases in temperature causes higher atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. In fact some studies of ice cores from the Antarctic suggest that rises in carbon dioxide levels actually lag behind rises in temperature, in which case if there's any causal link at all this evidence suggests the reverse of what AGW proponents believe. Without much evidence to go on except a data correlation, and one that requires its proponents to ignore counter evidence and fake calibrations of their data, there's no reason to believe one over the other except a theory. So to theory we now turn. 

Computer Models

The next line of AGW reasoning is theoretical computer simulations based on various ideas about how the earth's climate system works. Professional meteorologists will all tell you that they cannot accurately predict the weather more than one to two weeks in advance. In fact the development of modern chaos theory came from investigations into weather systems. You know, the idea that very small and perhaps undetectable and in practice unpredictable variations can cause major fluctuations in future events. You know they chose the name "chaos" theory because these types of systems were so easy to predict right? Yet these AGW scientific frauds and egomaniacs tell us they can predict the climate of the entire earth hundreds of years into the future. How? Computers! Computers are awesome and can do anything that humans can't do. Damn, those meteorologists ought to start using computers too! What's wrong with them?

There is a very simple and obvious problem with most of the global warming simulations: they've all turned out to be wrong. AGW proponents have put themselves between a rock and a hard place. Remember that positive feedback from earlier? Well in order for their simulations to show a large enough rise in temperatures to be super scary, their models had to use those positive feedback mechanisms, and that means an exponential rise in temperatures. There hasn't been any exponential rise in temperatures. 2012 was the hottest year since 1998, but not by much, and the intervening years were all cooler. Though the trend is still up, the evidence suggests a mild increase that is thrown back from time to time by negative, not positive, feedback, sort of like a stock ticker:

What a stock ticker shows is a general trend but with a lot of pushback, which I've been calling negative feedback. There are clearly forces at work pushing against the trend, and global average temperatures look a lot like this, not like an exponential curve. But that's not even the worst problem for these computer models.

Water vapor is upwards of 95% of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Nobody in their right mind believes people are dumb enough to get on board with a campaign against water, even though more water molecules than carbon dioxide molecules are produced by combustion reactions and water vapor is far and away the dominant greenhouse gas. Ever seen liquid dripping out of an exhaust pipe? Yeah, that's plain old water, and it's just as much a product of burning fuel as carbon dioxide. 

 So why is carbon dioxide supposedly a huge problem, other than the fact that politically a campaign against it is more viable than one against water? Well, supposedly these positive feedback mechanisms are all based on various effects a raised carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has on not just the temperature, which is a miniscule effect, but also on the level of water vapor in the atmosphere. That's right, instead of campaigning against the actual water vapor blowing out of your exhaust pipe, the campaign is against carbon dioxide because it somehow affects the level of water vapor in the atmosphere even more than the water vapor produced by combustion reactions. Carbon dioxide is more politically vulnerable than water, so despite the fact that even carbon dioxide based warming mechanisms must somehow affect the water vapor level in order to be relevant, carbon dioxide is still the bad guy? Is this starting to sound more like a political stunt than science? It should. The problem AGW proponents have is that carbon dioxide is a minor atmospheric gas, but they need it to have a major effect on global temperatures. This means their models must dramatically overestimate the impact of carbon dioxide on temperature. And that brings us to the rock and the hard place. If higher carbon dioxide levels have such massive impact, then we are already screwed. 

In order to be really scary, increased carbon dioxide levels must initiate a massive positive feedback effect on temperature. Since carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased so much and AGW models must dramatically overemphasize its effect on temperature, even if we completely shut down all human produced carbon dioxide, it's already too late. The line has been crossed, the positive feedback mechanisms have already kicked in and the exponential curve has already been activated. We are already screwed. If on the other hand, they build less alarmist models that show extremely minor reductions in carbon dioxide emissions can actually have an effect, then the problem posed by their increase is not really that bad. There really isn't a major problem in the first place. And that is the rock and the hard place. Either the AGW proponents must admit that there's nothing we can do and the earth is doomed because the train is already off the tracks, or the problem is so minor as to be inconsequential next to the level of sacrifice required to fix it. But of course, the entire reason this thing is so popular is it fits a political movement, and that political movement needs their science to say the world is doomed if you don't do what we want yada yada yada. But if they get that sort of science, then the world is doomed no matter what we do. And therein lies the political problem that, in the endgame now playing out, will inevitably doom the whole thing. 

The Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol was a treaty signed in 1997 by a large number of countries but notably excluded some of the world's largest economies and therefore largest carbon dioxide producers, especially the United States, who refused to sign, as well as China and India who were exempt. So the treaty was signed by a smattering of mostly European countries and some others like Japan and Australia. The great thing in this treaty for socialists was the carbon emissions trading scheme. Basically the goal of the treaty was to reduce carbon emissions to below 1990 levels, but different countries had different goals to reach this collective goal. Basically poor countries, which because of their bad economies don't burn a lot of fuel, had targets that were already higher than their current emissions. China and India as already mentioned were completely exempt despite being two of the fastest growing economies in the world. Rich countries on the other hand were the ones hit with reduction requirements. The trading scheme envisioned that poor countries which came in under their cap could actually sell their so-called "carbon credits" to rich countries that came in over their cap. The net effect was not a major reduction in carbon emissions. As I already explained, 1990 levels would doom the world just as much as 1997 levels if the AGW theorists are correct. The real effect would have been a massive transfer of wealth from rich countries to poor. But that's not even the half of it.

Why, for instance, was 1990 chosen as the magic year which served as the benchmark for carbon dioxide emissions? Again, no China, India or the U.S. and of course most other countries not in Europe were poor and the treaty would have probably meant nothing to them. What happened in Europe in 1990? Nothing much, just the fall of communism in half of it. Half of Europe was rich, and half of Europe was economically destroyed by fifty years of communism, a major embarrassment for certain political interests.  The transnationalist socialists trying to build a single country out of Europe needed economic equality not just to satisfy their socialist political ideology, but also to create the economic conditions for the European Union to work. Germany in particular is quite interesting, because Germany until 1990 was divided into West Germany and East Germany and unified on October 3, 1990, combining one of the world's strongest economies with one in pretty bad shape. West Germany essentially annexed poor East Germany, and the Kyoto Protocol used West Germany's per capita 1990 levels as the target. In other words, the addition after 1990 of poor and low emissions East Germany gave unified Germany a major advantage within the Kyoto Protocol because their per capita emissions had suddenly dropped, and Europe as a whole had the same kind of advantage with the carbon credit market allowing them to easily look like they were hitting their targets even though the rich nations were just buying higher caps from poor former communist countries that didn't need them. So in typical political fashion, the parties that had the most power got a system that favored them. There was just one problem: Communism won't fall again in Europe. Thus the Kyoto Protocol gave the Europeans a one-time bonus in the game. They didn't have that card to play the next time.


The Kyoto Protocol expired in 2012, and something was needed to replace it, so in 2009, awkwardly just after the release of the Climategate emails, the world met in Copenhagen to renew its commitment to political theater, and this time the United States was on board...sort of. Lots of people after the conference tried to put various amounts of positive spin on the effort, but the real story of Copenhagen was utter failure to reach an agreement. The problem with giving people money they didn't earn is they always come back for more money they don't have to earn, and that is what happened.

Copenhagen was sunk when a large alliance of poor countries began demanding large amounts of money from the rich countries. The rationale, if AGW was true, was simple. Rich industrialized countries have been using fossil fuels for decades and getting rich doing it. Now, when poor developing countries are trying to grow economically, suddenly they are being told they can't use fossil fuel as much as they want like the rich countries did for all that time. That's not fair. So, said the poor countries, either you give us our fair share (sound familiar?) of the money you made destroying the earth's climate or there's no deal. The rich countries, in the middle of a recession and without the mitigating effect of the 1990 benchmark in the Kyoto Protocols, said, "LOL NO U!" and that was that. The Kyoto Protocol is now expired, a number of countries like Japan, Canada and New Zealand simply reneged on their commitments anyway, and there's nothing to replace it because it no longer politically benefits anybody, which was the only purpose of the whole thing from the beginning.



The truth is that the earth is warming very slightly but will likely reach a temperature maximum in the near future, probably within the next one hundred years or so, at which point I believe it will flatten and then go back down just as it did after the last time it reached a maximum 800-1000 years ago. The higher carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere may or may not be significantly influenced by human activity. There are reasons to believe that warmer temperatures increase carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in various ways. (Indeed some of these mechanisms are cited by AGW proponents as part of their various models based on positive feedback.) But even if the increases in carbon dioxide are caused by humans, I don't believe it is the driving factor behind the temperature increase. I also believe that the earth's climate is designed by God to stay within certain limits, and I sincerely doubt God failed to plan for the contingency that humans might one day burn a bunch of stuff, especially stuff that was once part of the biosphere He created anyway. There is every reason to believe that with the very minor variations in average temperature we are talking about, on the order of a few degrees, that the earth's average temperature is sort of like a pendulum swinging back and forth in a pattern just like winter and fall, only on a much longer time scale. This pattern, which is actually incredibly stable, is based on negative feedback at the minimums and the maximums. The colder it gets, the stronger the warming mechanisms get. The hotter it gets, the stronger the effect of cooling mechanisms, which in the long term produces back and forth swings but keeps our earth within a temperature range necessary for life. 

As for AGW, it is politically dead except for radical true believers who probably have ulterior political motives such as the current Obama administration. They may make some minor gains, but in the end global warming will boil down (LAUGH I MADE A FUNNY!) to the sort of mild, misguided and woefully uninformed environmentalism common to fifth graders and those for whom traditional religions do not provide enough purpose in life.

Now that's whack.