$30.000 Challenge Submission – Great Global Warming Swindle Film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtevF4B4RtQ

A little dated but the content can be applied to this argument. There is a lot of excess in the film but because there have been a few things refuted on the film there are the following points that are still valid:

Raising levels of CO2 and water vapor are a result of increased temperature from sun/cosmic rays

Human activity accounts for a miniscule amount of total CO2 produced per year

Response:

To say that few things have been refuted in this film is an incredibly false statement. This is one of the worst polemics that I have ever had to sit through. Literally, there was some kind of false information nearly every single minute of the entire film. I have to conclude that this was done deliberately and with malice. I do not believe it would be possible to make that many scientific errors and distortions unless it was the intent of the writers and producer to do so.

I will give a blow-by-blow below, but take a look at just these two links showing what was said by one of the scientists used and about some of the data quoted:

Duke University did a thorough debunking of the film that can be found here. I really don’t need to add to it, but I will.

Natural Cycles:

The movie makes the claim that the climate has changed naturally over the millennia, therefore, today’s climate change is natural.  I addressed this issue in my posting here. But, let me recap on how that is a false argument.

The argument goes like this:

There were warming periods in the past.
There is a warming period today.
Warming periods in the past were natural.
Therefore, today’s warming period is natural.

Let me do that again to illustrate how it is a false argument:

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

The second does not follow from the first. It is assumed in the argument that there is only one way to kill someone (a natural disease). Therefore, anything that kills someone has to be a natural disease.

The natural cycle argument fails the same way. It is assumed there is only one way to create a warming trend (a natural cycle). Therefore, any warming trend has to be a natural cycle. But, that is not true. There are many ways to cause a warming trend, even among the ‘natural cycles.’ Nothing about natural cycles precludes that humans are capable of creating a warming cycle.

CO2 Lags Temperature Rise:

The argument is made that the historical record shows temperatures increasing before the level of CO2 increases. This, they claim, shows that CO2 does not cause warming. Of course, that is a totally false argument even without scientific evidence. The assumption is that if there is warming before the rise of CO2 levels, increasing CO2 cannot increase temperatures. Once again, the second does not follow from the first. Is CO2 the only way temperatures can increase? No, and that is the fallacy this argument makes.

What is happening here is that something is causing the initial increase of temperature. The initial driver might be changes in the Milokovitch cycles or an increase in solar activity. But, once the increase starts, CO2 is released from reservoirs (mainly the ocean) and this leads to a positive feedback. See this paper in the journal Nature by Shakun, et al. (2012) for more details on this process.  About one-third of the temperature rise during the natural cycles is attributed to this positive feedback.

The thing I find most interesting is that they are actually making a case for man made global warming when they do this. In today’s warming trend, the rise in CO2 is leading the temperature increase.  There is no natural driver that is causing the CO2 level to increase this time. The only thing leading to the increase of CO2 is us. Instead of some natural cycle being the initial driver which leads to increased CO2 levels, we are causing the CO2 levels to go up on our own and the temperature is following that increase.

Volcanoes Produce More CO2 Than Humans:

This is a completely debunked myth. The amount of volcanic emissions is a tiny fraction of human emissions.  Look at this paper by Gerlach (2011). Volcanoes emit between .13 and .44 gigatons of CO2 per year. Humans emit in excess of 35 gigatons per year. At that rate, it would take at least 79 years for volcanoes to produce as much CO2 as humans produce in one year (and our production rate is going up).

Does nature produce more CO2 than we do, overall? Yes. Natural sources of CO2 produce between 750 and 800 gigatons of CO2 per year. That is over 20 times as much as our total CO2 production. However, natural sinks also absorb all of that naturally produced CO2, so that is a net zero amount of CO2 contribution. The level would stay the same. Nature also absorbs about half of our CO2 production, which means the other half is being added to the atmosphere every year. Check out the Keeling curve of CO2 levels.

By the way, this is the CO2 record for the last 800,000 years from the Scripps Institute Keeling curve website:

That gigantic surge on the right hand side that goes up to 400 ppm is today’s level (shown in green numbers at top). This is not only the highest level in the last 800,000 years, it is very significantly higher. Where are the natural sources that caused that totally unprecedented rise?

Ocean Temperature Change

The movie claims that it takes hundreds to thousands of years to see a change in the ocean temperature. Take a look at this plot from the EPA:

Line graph showing changes in average global sea surface temperature from 1880 to 2013.

You can see how the ocean temperature changed much like the air temperature did. Clearly, the ocean temperature is changing much more rapidly than the movie claimed. Incidentally, the scientist they used for those segments (Dr. Carl Wunsch) is the scientist that claims he was misused in film. The link to his letter is provided at the top of my response.

Or, this plot of the ocean heat content from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC):

Ocean Heat Content

Solar Activity:

The movie correctly makes the point that there is a strong correlation between solar activity and global temperature. Solar activity is more than just the sunspot number, although that is an indicator. Solar activity is the total solar output and does not follow a regular cycle like the sunspots do. Nor is it predictable (at least, not yet). Over time, as the solar activity went up, the temperature went up. When the solar activity went down, the temperature went down. That is, until today.

Notice how the 11-year average has been trending downward since the 1970s. If solar activity was the principle driver, as the movie claims, we would expect to see the temperature go down, not up.

This is a plot below from NCDC showing solar activity since the late 1970s compared to the temperature record. The temperature has gone up substantially during that time, but the solar activity has remained, at best, constant.

http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/indicators/solar-variability.gif

One of the greatest ironies of this film is that I have already received a submission that claims we are headed into a new mini-ice age, not warming. Their evidence? The falling trend of solar activity.

Models Have All  Failed

The movie makes two false claims about climate models. It says all models were made with the assumption of CO2 and then it says they all have failed. Neither is true. The claim that models are wrong is one of the most worn-out excuses and is another false statement. In fact, models have succeeded quite well. Take a look at this plot from NCDC:

http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/images/indicators/human-and-natural-influences.gif

This plot shows the observed temperature trend (black line) as well as modeling results using data without man made effects and with man made effects. You can see that models were made without the CO2 input (shooting down one claim) and you can see that when man made effects were included the models did quite well.

I am providing some additional links on this subject here and here.

Ice Caps

They made several false statements about the ice caps. I’ll address two of them.

The ice caps expand and shrink naturally. Well, it all depends on what you are talking about. Yes, there is a seasonal cycle where they grow during the winter and melt during the summer. This is true of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctic. They have even gone through long-term variations in the past. But, nothing like what is being seen today has ever been recorded. I covered this in a couple of postings here and here. The data shows the ice caps and Greenland are both shrinking in size. The increase in sea ice around Antarctica in the winter is greatly offset by the loss of land ice. The trend line for the Arctic sea ice is very much going down, even with the rebound of 2013. The bad news is that this years melt season is trending lower than last year. It does not look like the rebound is continuing.

As for the Greenland melting, look at this plot from the Polar Portal:

Also, they said the melting of the ice caps does not contribute to sea level rise. Again, this is a false statement. Arctic sea ice is already in the water and does nothing to the sea level when it melts, but the melting of the ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are having a big effect. The melting of the two ice sheets together adds about .95 millimeters per year. That is about three times as much as in the 1990s (Apparently, the ice sheets didn’t get the news that warming has stopped).

Political Arguments

This was the very most offensive part of the whole movie. The evidence that man made global warming isn’t real is because, at least according to the people that made this film, climatologists, environmentalists and world governments want to keep the undeveloped world from acquiring electricity. In fact, anyone that promotes climate change very well may be a Marxist, according to them. According to them, millions of people live in terrible poverty and die every year because climate change scientists are preventing them from getting electricity.

The real reason they don’t have electricity is because there is no power grid. Even if these countries were to invest in power plants, you then have to have an extensive grid to get the power from the plant to the people. Power grids are very complicated, expensive and difficult to build. In the most impoverished areas, this is what is keeping people from having electricity.

The worse part? This is not scientific evidence for or against climate change. This was nothing more than sensationalism (one of the things they themselves criticized climate change scientists about) for the purpose of alarmism. Nothing more. It was just one more gigantic false argument.

For the producers of this film to make such a claim is totally irresponsible and is not supported by the facts. In fact, a recent study has shown that the global warming is costing the world economy as much as $1.2 trillion per year and as many as 400,000 people are dieing each year as a result.

Conclusion

I was speaking to someone yesterday about Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth. She criticized the film and stated that it had seven major errors in it. She cited this as part of her argument against man made global warming. I agree that Gore’s movie had some real problems. But, if you are going to trash the issue of man made global warming because his movie had seven errors, what will do you say about global warming deniers when this movie has at least eleven major errors. There were are more errors than that. I just got tired of commenting on all of them.

So, this movie is totally without credibility and most certainly does not pass the test of scientific evidence against global warming.

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