I read a blog with a post entitled: New Paper Halves the Global Average Surface Temperature Trend 1980 - 2002
Then I started reading the comments about the article, and soon found myself mired in dense debates about the minutiae of data bases used and the tweaking and adjusting of them.
After a while of reading these comments, I noticed the trend was that they became more focused on methodology, and lost sight of meaning. At that point I thought it time to add some observations of my own:
All these comments are reminiscent of the “Six Wise Men of Hindustan” who went to see the elephant though all of them were blind. Their analyses of the elephant, and their arguments in support of their positions, were irrelevant because they didn’t comprehend the essence of the beast.
The subject at hand, Earth, has had constantly changing climate. It has been warmer, it has been colder. Atmospheric CO2 at times has been multiples above present levels. This current warming trend began a century before significant increases in CO2. So did current glacier shortening and sea level rise.
It was warmer during the Holocene Optimum of only 5,000 years ago, and warmer during the Medieval Warm Period of less than 1,000 years ago. Sea levels have risen over 400 feet in less than 20,000 years (since the Ice Age), an average of over two feet a century. Civilization made great progress during these previous warm periods, and regressed during cold periods such as the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age. These cold periods were characterized by influenza, bubonic plague, and cholera pandemics. Storms were more violent and numerous. Crop yields fell and famine spread, while human bodies shrank and their skeletons showed malnutrition and disease.
In contrast, warmer periods exhibited population growth, progress in arts, science and civil development, and humans living longer, healthier lives.
In the face of all this, voluminous and detailed arguments about the correction of readings from weather stations and satellites covering a period of less than three decades seems futile and frivolous. What will it all mean when the Earth completes its passage through this current natural interglacial period, and enters the next glacial one?
Less than 20,000 years ago, an ice sheet a mile thick covered Chicago. No actions of man caused it.
10,000 years ago that ice sheet was gone and sea levels had risen about 300 feet. No actions of man caused it.
Many now are like the wise who debated the elephant, saying it is like a tree, a spear, a wall, a rope, a snake, a fan. When tired of that debate, they argued about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, when those who knew angels know they would rather watch football than dance.
In the anthropogenic global warming debate I detect the use of outstanding methods to achieve mediocre results. If the warming is not caused by man, it can’t be stopped. If it is caused by man, it is still unstoppable even if mankind assents to reentering the eighteenth century.
Given these inevitabilities, the best we can do is adapt to the changes, whatever they may be, making the best use of our limited resources, rather than squandering them in vain efforts to turn back the tide. Then once we get adjusted to doing what mankind does best – adapting to change – we can start planning to adjust to the real climate change challenge, when we enter the inevitable next glacial phase.
Adjusting to warm is nothing compared to adjusting to cold.