Naturally Occurring Cycles Are Not Responsible For Today’s Warming

The claim that there have been naturally occurring warming cycles in the past has become the single most often stated ‘proof’ that man made global warming is real. I have discussed this before, but thought it was time to address it again.

There are lots of naturally occurring cycles and the climate has gone through many warming and cooling phases in the past. Take a look at this plot of temperature and CO2 over the last 800,000 years. Today is on the left.

It is very easy to see that there have been lots of warming periods in the last 800,000 years. I could 13 separate times the global average goes above the baseline, including today. You may get a different number based on how you define ‘separate.’ We also see the level of CO2 in the atmosphere rises and falls with a very high correlation coefficient.

The denier argument goes like this: Evidence of past warming cycles proves today’s warming trend is just a naturally occurring cycle. To put it succinctly, it goes like this:

There were warming periods in the past.
We have a warming period today.
The warming periods in the past were natural.
Therefore, today’s warming trend is natural.

Does anyone disagree with my characterization of the denier argument?

Does anyone see the fatal flaw in this argument?

Let me give you an identical argument.

Pneumonia kills people.
Gunshot wounds kill people.
Pneumonia is a naturally occurring disease.
Therefore, gunshot wounds are a naturally occurring disease.

The problem with this argument, and the reason it is a false argument, is that it makes a false connection between the first part and the second. It is automatically assumed, without any evidence, that pneumonia and gunshot wounds are related merely because they both kill people. At no time is any evidence presented to link them together or to show that there is only one way to kill people (a naturally occurring disease).

The denier argument makes an equally false connection between past warming trends and today’s warming trend. It is automatically assumed, without evidence, that today’s trend and all past trends are related simply because they are both warming trends. At no time is any evidence every presented to link them together and it is assumed, without proof, that there is only one way to cause a warming trend (a natural cycle). All of these are false arguments designed to fool and deceive. There even multiple ways to have a naturally occurring cycle. They are not all the same simply because they occurred naturally.

The real truth about natural cycles is very disturbing for deniers. There are lots of naturally occurring cycles and they are studied a lot by scientists. There is the Milankovitch cycles, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the solar cycle, solar activity (not the same as the solar cycle), and more.

Deniers will pull one of these cycles out with an ‘Ah ha! Caught you!’ type of attitude, as if they are the first person to find them and scientists are ignoring them. Ask yourself one question, who do you think discovered these cycles in the first place? Some denier playing around on his computer? No! They were discovered by scientists and we work these cycles into our calculations.

Two very influential cycles are the AMO and solar activity. Both of these give a lot of correlation to global average temperature. Unfortunately, both of these were in a negative phase throughout the warming trend of the 1980s and 1990s. The AMO has turned positive (warming), ironically during the same period deniers claim global warming has stopped (not true), but the solar activity has continued to be in a negative phase.

The sum of the natural cycles is that we are in a naturally cooling phase, not a warming one. If it was not for man made greenhouse gas emissions, the climate would be much cooler than the long-term average. All of the heating above the long-term average (actually, above what it would be without our emissions) is due to human activity in the form of greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere that would otherwise escape into space.

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11 thoughts on “Naturally Occurring Cycles Are Not Responsible For Today’s Warming

  1. …and Chris deploys the squirrel* defence!

    You know, and I know, that you've totally avoided addressing my challenge. And lied in the process. Interested readers may like to read my challenge, benefiting FSF.org, here: http://dialoguesonglobalwarming.blogspot.fr/2014/06/some-clarification-on-100001000.html?showComment=1403559875535#c2229151442383251319 ..and on the thread thereafter. (Chris promised he'd answer that day, but his asignment is a day late. Wouldn't your students get an automatic fail for that Chris?)

    The money shot was this graph: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vnh/mean:30/plot/hadcrut3vsh/mean:30/plot/esrl-amo/mean:30 comparing temperatures and the AMO. The AMO is clearly the dominant factor in temperature variations, and is a natural cycle that's been around for at least a thousand years. And Chris, contrary to your lie above, the AMO was in a warming phase through the '80's and '90's.

    So, the FSF win, on both points, which were that i) natural factors are more important in the recent warming than CO2, and ii) solid evidence on natural cycles influencing modern temperatures. Cough it up. https://crm.fsf.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=14

    ———————————————-

    *squirrel defence: when presented with a great argument you can't answer, say “Oh look! A squirrel!”

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  2. This paragraph was in the original NASA article. Due to spin it was not found in the ThinkProgress, ABCNews, and MSNBC reports of the Greenland ice sheet. “Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data. “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

    This is the original article ABC News, MSNBC, and ThinProgress cited from NASA. http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/greenland-melt.html

    This is the report ABC News shared with millions. I call this climate alarmism. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/07/24/580371/abc-news-on-stunning-greenland-ice-melt-scientists-say-theyve-never-seen-anything-like-this-before/

    Research Molycorp in California. This is why we don't mine rare earth metals in the United States. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/a-visit-to-the-only-american-mine-for-rare-earth-metals/253372/

    Ask Bill Nye, Nancy Pelosi, or Steve Armstrup what alternative fuels they support. People like you want to make this into a popularity contest. What are our alternative fuel solutions should be the public debate? Instead scientists like yourself continuously dumb down this conversation to insulting what you perceive to be bible thumping climate change deniers.

    Wind and solar require rare earth metals. Rare earth metals aren't mined in the United States. We import them from China thereby destroying their environment. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/aug/07/china-rare-earth-village-pollution

    150 years on average! That's NASA. Why did certain new sources run away with the “alarming” Greenland ice sheet images while censoring the key important caption contained in the original NASA report? It's not coincidence. Much like ABC News trying to sell headlines you want to sell a book, “Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming.” There's your plug. Where is my 10,000 dollars? When it comes to money you're the type of monkey scientist that likes to manipulate public opinion for profit. I'm the monkey scientist who keeps telling the truth with integrity. The difference is you get public funding and I get arrested for protesting unconstitutional laws like the NDAA of 2012.

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  3. You use fear as a tactic. Global warming scare tactics. You want more government funding for your scientific adventures. Similar “scientific” monkeys have reached similar positions in a bad economy in institutions across America academia. The cost of secondary education has skyrocketed. There are more college degree earners in the population but you pretend that the vast majority are stupid. The one world government wars cause as much strife as the casual use of gasoline powered vehicles. You choose to speak down to your fellow man who must commute to his 9-5 job. His carbon footprint is the problem not yours.

    Current temperatures and patterns are well within natural variation. The truth is life on this planet has always been in a delicate balance. As a biologist I could hypothesize on why you're so bias in your support of a global warming hypothesis.

    You're the world renown physicist with more academic credentials I'm the nobody. Yet our opinions should be considered equals in the free world of science. If that's the case? What's your opinion on this scientific evidence? What a Gravity Demolition Looks Like by David Chandler. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiHeCjZlkr8 In my opinion the NIST government version of 9/11 can be proven wrong with this scientific evidence. If you ignore the evidence I have presented I would suggest you have some bias toward government propaganda. This video very much pertains to physics. If I display that you have a bias toward government interpretation of science in your discipline one could hypothesize you have a bias in other disciplines like the atmospheric or oceanic sciences. I look forward to debating your opinion on this matter.

    In summation I would say that whatever affect humans have on the global climate is minimal. Humans are responsible for specific pollution problems which arguably harm the world. The destruction of Amazon rain forest can be quantified. The size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch can be quantified. Correctly quantifying the total negative global toll humans have on the planet is a nihilistic negative viewpoint from the start. I'm not claiming there isn't room for improvement in our treatment of our environment.

    Scientifically our specific recorded temperature data only goes back hundreds of years. So to assess blame for our current climate on the current population is some what unjust. Natural cycles got us to this moment in time. Natural cycles will very likely get us out. Most humans never live more than 100 years. For any scientist to claim they have correctly interpreted global weather patterns which may fluctuate every 150 years by assessing vague blame to the general population is a leap in faith. I'm a skeptic. The clear motive for profit (i.e. selling a Global warming alarmist book such as Undeniable) outweighs the scientist's infallibility or impartibility. The quote 95% of climate scientists that's been thrown around by climate alarmist media types has been proven false. Many of theses academics have clearly fallen prey for government scientific funding handouts as well. The whole hypothesis for increasing tax revenue so the government can some how solve a never ending crisis like global warming is a socialist dream. If 95% scientists agree on global warming they also might agree on liberal policies. This survey could explain why liberal scientists are so pessimistic about our global temperature. http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1 The optimistic prediction that global natural climate cycles the like of which humans cannot fully comprehend will also fix the climate “crisis” is never stated. The earth has proven to be resilient to every apex predator it's encountered. We should approach our awe of global climate patterns with humility. Instead all we see are loud Christopher Keating types yelling with certainty for profitability.

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  4. The following was from Allen Wrench. Mr. Wrench's comment has the distinction of being the first to be edited by me. He failed the 'family-friendly' test. I took out the offending verbiage, but left the rest of the comment intact. – Chris Keating

    Alan Wrench June 25, 2014 at 8:26 PM
    I keep reading how the “end of the world” is coming… sooner and sooner and sooner.
    I just looked up a few things just to try and get some numbers for myself:

    Earths atmosphere is approx. 5.15 x 10 to 18 or 5,150,000,000,000,000,000
    Approx CO2 levels are 397 ppmv or 0.0397%

    We produce approx. 35,000,000,000 kg of CO2 per year (fossil fuel ect.)
    So if we put that into a procentage of the total that gives us:
    0.00000068% being added to our environment every year.

    When we consider that CO2 makes up 0.0397% of the atmosphere… that last number doesn't look that huge anymore.

    I see numbers about saving the Rainforest being able to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% but the math doesn't add up there either. They say that the rainforests can take up to 2 billion kg out of the air… but we are emitting 35 billion kg a year. How is 2 billion 20% of 35 billion?

    But all of that doesn't even stay in the air… half of it goes into the water which is approx 1,448,259,888,391,745,625,000 kg making that a change of 0,0000000096% a year.

    These are all rounded estimates and all… but I still don't see the huge change right now. How long have we been burning fossil fuels?

    I get that we need to change something… but I think we have a case of both sides making up numbers and using them for their own hidden agendas.

    I mean, if it wasn't for Global Warming… you wouldn't be able to sell your book with a publicity stunt like this, would you?

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  5. Man is a pretty vain being if ha believes he is in control of the planet, it merely goes on about its day without ever knowing we are here. It is folly to engage such a small minded individual about a subject that can or cannot be proven. Here are a few examples of mankinds failures, 100 years ago man believed other human beings were not equal, and the scholars and sages agreed. 300 years ago man believed witches were the cause of crop failures, and the experts agreed, 500 years ago man believed the world was flat, experts wrong on that one, 1000 years ago man believed the earth was the center of the universe, scientists told them so, and they were very smart, 5000 years ago a giant beetle used to push the sun across the sky, again the smartest guy in the room was pulling out of his rear. So, now we come to present day, and we have everything figured out, we know without a doubt that we are the smartest creatures on the planet and we know what is going on. Nice try.

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  6. The part of us being vain in our belief in controlling the planet is valid and is pretty much the point. No, we cannot control the planet and it will do its natural thing, with or without us. So, when we do things and expect no change, simply because we are the masters and the planet is the slave, then we shouldn't be surprised when things don't turn out the way we would like. We need to learn to behave.

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  7. I receive no funding, from the government or anywhere else. I am retired and pay for my research myself.

    Science is not an opinion. Is gravity an opinion? Neither is science a belief. You don't 'believe' in gravity. Science is the understanding of the laws of nature. Either you do understand and accept them, or you don't. You don't get to argue an opinion with nature.

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