Lorne Gunther: Denial (and dumb analogies) are us

Tue, 2010-03-09 14:49Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Lorne Gunther: Denial (and dumb analogies) are us

In a wonderfully silly update of the (Canadian newspaper the) National Post’s campaign of climate change denial, columnist Lorne Gunther (picked up here in the Edmonton Journal) argues that global warming has ended - and to prove it, he imagines the earth as an out-of-control Toyota which he decides has run out of gas.

What good fortune that might be (running out of gas in time to stop before you hit the cliff). But how can we think that our careering planetary heating system - which appears to have it its top speed and has been holding steady for more than a decade - is “out of gas” when we’re pumping the stuff into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate?

Look, for example, at the graph to the right. This is a fuel guage for atmospheric CO2: we’re not running out; we’re topping up.

So, given that rudimentary physics demonstrates CO2 to be a greenhouse gas (which has the effect of holding on to more of the sun’s radiative energy) and given that, by burning fossil fuels and cutting down trees, we are pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere every year, the best scientists in the world have postulated that global average temperatures will likely rise as a result.

And whadaya know: global average temperatures have indeed been rising (per the graph below). The climb hasn’t been quite as steady as the increase in CO2 because, as Gunther might agree, climate is complicated. For example, we also have to consider the influence of the sun, which was raging along in the latter part of the 20th century but has (again as Gunther notes) hit an unusually dead spot lately.

Now, I know that the people who wish warming weren’t real - or could be blamed on something else so we fossil fuel consumers could keep on keeping on - will reiterate Gunther’s goofy argument that warming seems to have stalled. Regardless that nine of the hottest 10 years in recorded history have occurred since 2000, they want to believe that our Toyota is slowing safely, despite the stuck accelerator.

But I invite you all to have a quick read of Bart Verheggen’s great post on this issue. In addition to having pulled together clearer images of the graph at left, he has illustrated exactly how such graphs have been used to misrepresent the science.

Then, before you get back behind the wheel of Gunther’s imagined auto, consider this: knowing that the accelerator is sticky, is it prudent to keep your foot on the gas? Or would it be smarter to take the car in for a check-up - and not with a journalist or a gasoline salesman, but with someone who actually knows something about cars?

If you choose the first option, please honk before you get behind the wheel. It will help the rest of us recognize that you are part of the problem.

Comments

As an avid cycling enthusiast - I like to believe that I’m doing my bit by cycling instead of driving where possible. That is until I come home and turn on the air-conditioner because it’s so darn hot…..

Phil Jones previous head of the CRU East Anglia University said in a recent BBC interview that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995, something skeptics have been saying. Till now Alarmist denied.

So if the theory is correct how do you account for the increase of CO2 in the last 15 years; china, India, US and everywhere else yet the temperature has not increased in the last 15 years?

What about the Medieval Warm period and little ice age was it not warmer and colder in the past, before SUV’s and Coal fired plants (Man produced CO2)

So why has the theory run out of gas? The so called cause (CO2) has increased so why has the resulted (Rising temperatures) stooped?

Why is the UK MET office with the blessing of 150 climate scientists calling for a redo on the temperature data?

Why is there an independent review of the IPCC being formed?

I think its a valid point, the message has been increased carbon leads to increased temperature and we have been told and shown how bad this is and what it will lead to? So the question is why has the warming stopped since 1995.

Also you and others are claiming that its the hottest decade on record, what about the past Medieval warm period, is it warmer now then then? Confused….