Friday, December 28, 2007

The Pre-Apocalyptic Winter Wonderland

I believe the University of Wisconsin when they say Madison’s annual snowfall averages 35 inches. I also believe when the Wisconsin State Journal says about this much snow has been deposited on the town this month alone. According to the story, this is the second time this decade Capital City has a years worth of frozen water dumped on it in a month.

Snow: That brings December's total to 32.2 inches, nearly surpassing the second highest snowfall on record of 32.8 inches in 1987. The record for December snowfall in Madison was set in 2000, when 35 inches fell. There is about a 50 percent chance of between 1 and 3 inches of snow on Sunday night and Monday morning.

Which begs the question, are these events yet more manifestations of human activity over heating the world? Even some people in the press are beginning to ask the question:

Has global warming stopped? The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.

The article then gives a very nice summary of the dangerous human made climate change story being pitched to the untrained public. It is the kindergarten version understood by the vast majority of our politicians. (H/T Dad29)

In principle the greenhouse effect is simple. Gases like carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere absorb outgoing infrared radiation from the earth’s surface causing some heat to be retained. Consequently an increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases from human activities such as burning fossil fuels leads to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Thus the world warms, the climate changes and we are in trouble.

In reality, the greenhouse effect is not simple. It is a complex interaction of water vapor and a few other molecules with segments of the electromagnetic spectrum. Carbon dioxide is a minor player that rapidly absorbs the limited band of radiation it can absorb. Contrary to the Gospel of Gore, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has very little effect on temperature.

Furthermore, to be technically correct, the energy “retained” is retained for a short period. Heat always dissipates and only the rate of dissipation can be affected. The whole “we are in trouble” scenario depends entirely on the false logic that summer is harder on living things than winter. It seems like I keep writing variations on this story and I suppose I will keep writing until this harmful misunderstanding of nature is squelched.