Man-Caused Global Warming Is Irrelevant

None of the "solutions" are worth anything.

So much has been said about the pros and cons of Global Warming that we find watching the spectacle to resemble our attitude towards professional sports.

Not being much of a sports fan, we find little enjoyment in watching the games themselves.  What we find fascinating, however, is watching the behavior of sports fans.  They engage in rituals, accuse rivals of every sin imaginable, buy totemic objects at inflated prices, and carry on in ways that would fascinate any anthropologist.

The Global Warming controversy has become fascinating in the same way.  As with sports, nobody can tell what will really happen in the future, but watching fans argue about the future has become far more interesting than the Global Warming question itself. 

The blogosphere has had a number of heated discussions about human-caused climate change, known as Anthropogenic Global Warming or AGW in many posts. The true believers are angry that the deniers won't accept the word of so many climate scientists.  They discard the views of denying Nobel-prize wining physicists, arguing that these these scientists, eminent as they may be, aren't climate specialists to their satisfaction.

There is so much back and forth that it can become difficult to keep track of all the payers and understand the range of opinions they represent.  Forbes published a summary of the various points of view on a controversial new energy source, but their description applies just as well to any contentions issue such as Obama's birth certificate, 9-11, or even AGW.  If you're going to take part in the controversy, it helps to know who the players are.

Two Teams - Believers and Skeptics

Many peer-reviewed papers have been published about climate change, global warming, and the coming catastrophe.  These efforts have done little to convince the skeptics but have driven believers into a frenzy of support.  Believers accuse skeptics of wanting to trash the planet or of blindly following cover-ups by energy companies; skeptics accuse believers of wanting to trash everyone's way of life and freedoms.

Skeptics believe that anyone being funded by the government is being paid to say that global warming is a coming catastrophe which must be mitigated by skyrocketing energy costs so we can all freeze in the dark.  They don't trust government with any more power than it already has.

Believers argue that anyone funded by an energy company is paid to say global warming isn't happening.  They argue that only a benign, all-knowing government can save us from the greed of fossil fuel sellers and users.

Skpetics accuse believers of belonging to a cult-like group which trashes dissenters and tries to keep papers which don't support the AGW mantra from being published at all.  They don't accept the believers' contention that they're evil; they seem themselves as deferring judgment until we know more about the issue.

We represent a totally different school of thought - we believe that it doesn't matter a whit whether global warming is real.  We're also convinced that if it is real, it doesn't matter whether it's caused by human activity or not.

Recent Studies

People can't even agree whether the earth is getting warmer or not - there has been much back-and-forth about temperature measurements and much controversy about which year was the hottest on record.

Forbes reports a major new look at all the temperature data.  The study tried to correct for measurement stations which have changed due to more asphalt near them and other environmental factors.  They study concluded that the earth's temperature is rising, albeit not by much.

Never mind all that because it doesn't matter what's going on with climate.  Here's a series of bullet points you can use to see how well the true believers in your circle can handle opposition:

  • If global warming is completely certain, why did researchers change the name to "climate change?"  This sounds like a ploy to keep the money coming no matter what climate does.  If they were sure, they'd have stuck with "global warming."
  • True believers argue that we're seeing more major storms than in the past, but examination of centuries of British navy log books shows that major storms are no more frequent now than they were before the Industrial Revolution.
  • Archaeological evidence shows that the Vikings used to ranch cattle in Greenland.  They starved when the climate turned colder.  Greenland today is far too cold to ranch cattle; the climate must have been a lot warmer in the past than it is now.  Climate has gotten warmer and colder for millennia, so it shouldn't be surprising that we might be heading into a warmer period.  What, if anything, is different this time?
  • Climate activists yell and scream that we're putting too much CO2 in the atmosphere, but Forbes reports a recent study finding that CO2 levels were higher in the past than they are now:

    “We’re on the bottom edge of the levels that were thought to have existed in the Cretaceous and rapidly heading toward the estimated values during the greenhouse times, including the Late Cretaceous.” [emphasis added]

    We've had higher CO2 levels before and life did just fine; what's different this time?

  • The sun's output fluctuates.  The sun is our major heat source.  Its changes are the primary influence of temperatures on earth.  CERN is also finding that cosmic rays affect the way clouds absorb or reflect heat.  Nobody knows the effect of the sun's variability on earth temperature.
  • Assuming that global warming is happening, it's not clear that human activity is causing the warming.  Volcanoes put particles in the air which make the earth cooler.  Sulfur particles in acid rain made the earth cooler.  Banning Freon made the earth warmer.  Everybody yells about CO2, but water vapor is a far more potent greenhouse gas.  Who knows what's dominating?  If it's water vapor, how are we going to stop the oceans from evaporating?

The Bottom Line:

Assuming that global warming is actually happening and assuming that human activity is causing it, do we trust any government with billions of dollars of our money to do something about it? The US Department of Energy has spent billions since Pres. Carter funded them to find new energy sources to reduce oil imports.  What have they achieved?  Zilch.  Nada.  Nothing useful at all.

The government just dumped a half-billion on a well-connected solar energy company.  GE is applying for government subsidies for solar panel manufacturing; yet more corporate welfare.  How much money do we think government should spend addressing Global Warming / Climate Change, even if it were real, given their track record?

Not one thin dime.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Environment.
Reader Comments

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,
or achieve a political objective, e.g., global governance.

November 1, 2011 10:39 AM

Its just science trying to be god. Global governance will emerge because people are too lazy to figure out things for themselves. We give people power over us because we dont have any basic belief system. If you believe you came from slime you are a pushover. I believe God created all things and upholds His creation now and forever!!!!!

November 1, 2011 7:51 PM

Aside from my usual comment that government should not be trusted with any amount of money, much less on a subject like this I offer this thought. I read several years ago and do not remember where and I am too lazy to find it this fact. Life flourished x amount of millions of years ago with a much hotter climate than we have today. If it were to get that hot again it won't happen overnight as the algores of the world believe but gradually. So what? People, in my estimation, tend to look at events through their eyes and experiences as if that is all one needs to be correct. The people think that if the temperature goes up or down 1/2 of a degree in a 30 year time frame then that is enough scientific research. They do not realize the vapid life that we have, a nano-blink in time. To worry over this is is a trojan horse. The powers behind the scenes will encourage the believers to plod on with their agenda but what the powers really care about is just that, power to control the masses. If it's climate change, Wall Street or oil it does not matter, they simply want to change the conversation away from individual freedom that they do not control into something that they can control. Once again, your run of the mill Trojan Horse.

November 1, 2011 10:39 PM

While I certainly agree that it doesn't matter if global warming/climate change is occurring nor if it is being caused by man, my conclusions from that are different.

Regardless of climate alterations, I do not see how anyone can be against the concept of limited pollution of all types and agree, in concept, that it would be better if humans produced zero pollution. Of course the issue starts in the implementation of that. It is proper for the government to move benchmarks in a slow but steady march towards that line. Also, it is proper for there to be government assistance to private companies, such as the COTS program for getting private manned space flight up and running. If there were a similar style program for renewable energy sources I do believe that could be useful, since the program doesn't pick the winners but instead puts up benchmarks for them to meet in order to achieve funding.

Renewable energy isn't just about pollution after all. At some point we are not going to be able to run this world on fossil fuels. We certainly can for some time yet but the end is approaching at an indeterminate point in the future and finding a solution to that problem now would be far better than waiting to the last minute.

Bill Gates gave a speech at TED where he spoke about a new form of nuclear energy which would be cheaper and safer than traditional nuclear power and would run off of the nuclear waste providing a solution to that problem. After the speech he was asked what he would tell climate skeptics. He responded that he would tell them it was cheaper than coal.

So while I do agree that it doesn't matter if global warming is real, it doesn't matter if it is being caused by humanity. Humanity should work to find a cleaner, cheaper, safer fuel source. Not to save the world but to make our lives and our children's lives better.

November 1, 2011 11:55 PM


you just gave the reason why government has no reason whatsoever to set standards, provide tax incentives or anything else. Your section about Bill Gates says a ton about the fact that private enterprise will come up with the answer when the time and price is right. Government has given us little bitty cars when we need big vehicles. The mandate a buncha miles per gallon and force the manufacturers to build small cars. Government gets in the way and says we can drill in the Gulf Coast, the East Coast, the West Coast, Alaska, or frack natural gas, develop nuclear energy, coal, etc., etc., etc. All this does is raise gas prices and make our balance of trade worse than it should be. It hurts the small guy/gal more than it does the folks at the top. We have over 500 years of energy resources here in our country. we should be exporting energy, not importing energy

I don't know if you are old enough to remember when congress got involved with the steel industry or not but the regulations that congress imposed on our steel industry effectively put it out of business. We could not compete with a 10 ton rock around our neck. Every time congress tries to put its nose into business it hurts everyone, especially the guys and gals that work there. When will we learn.

It is through wealth that an industry can clean up its act, not through government regulations. If you were to impose our regulations on the rest of the world their industries would grind to a halt but they are not as stupid as we are. Would it really help the people of Bangladesh if they ahd to comply with our regulations? No, they would just have no jobs because they do not have the money yet. They will in time but they first have to create the wealth in order to have a better life. The cart does not come before the horse. That is a lesson that we will have to re-learn.

November 2, 2011 1:11 AM

WSJ reports that there are still arguments going on about whether the earth is getting warmer or not. One problem is that satellite data seem to suggest a lot less warming than land measurements, which could be because more buildings are being built near temperature measurement stations.

Many scientists are giving the Berkeley Earth team kudos for creating the unified database.

Plaudits are coming even from some scientists who dispute the conclusions of the Berkeley Earth team itself. The team analyzed its own temperature records and concluded that the Earth's land has warmed by an average of about 0.9 degree Celsius (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-1950s. That is in line with some earlier efforts that used smaller sets of temperature readings.

Some scientists reaching into the new database, while generally agreeing the Earth has been warming, disagree with details of the team's findings. For instance, Berkeley Earth's trend graphs, which reflect some modeling, show temperatures continuing to rise since the late 1990s. But the raw numbers show no definitive evidence of an increase in that time. The group also hasn't made use of satellite-derived temperature readings. These show a smaller increase. The difference may reflect that some land-based weather stations aren't well maintained.

"I'm inclined to give [satellite] data more weight than reconstructions from surface-station data," says Stephen McIntyre, a Canadian mathematician who writes about climate, often critically of studies that find warming, at his website Climate Audit. Satellites show about half the amount of warming as that of land-based readings in the past three decades, when the relevant data were collected from space, he says.

Any statistical model produces results with some level of uncertainty. The Berkeley Earth project is no different. That uncertainty is large enough to dwarf some trends in temperature. For instance, fluctuations in the land temperature for the past 13 years make it extremely difficult to say whether the Earth has been continuing to warm during that time.

This possible halting of the temperature rise led to a dispute between members of the Berkeley Earth team. Judith Curry, Mr. Muller's co-author and a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, told a reporter for the Daily Mail she questioned Mr. Muller's claim, which he published in an opinion column in The Wall Street Journal, that "you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer." She said that if the global temperature has flattened out, that would raise new questions, and scientific skepticism would remain warranted. Asked for further comment, she referred questions to Mr. Muller, and on her blog she said that after a 90-minute talk with him, "there isn't much that we disagree on."

This sort of messy hashing-out of the global climate record is happening in the open because the Berkeley Earth team chose to release its data, and its papers, before undergoing peer review by scientific journals. Already some feedback has led to updates and corrections to the research. Berkeley Earth plans other work, including adding ocean temperature trends to the land records and fixing errors in its database.

"Some people mistakenly think peer review means secret review by anonymous referees at journals," Mr. Muller says. "We're getting wonderful peer review, from McIntyre, from Briggs, from other people. That's the process of science."

November 4, 2011 10:58 PM


I do entirely agree that at present the government tends to get in the way more than help with most issues. That is why I pointed to the COTS program. The government doesn't directly pick winners and losers instead it helps the companies that are doing the best. It works more like the x-prize than a standard government grant.

Giving a prize to the first company to make a care that gets 100 miles to the gallon and can be used on road trips of more than 1000 miles, for example, would be a good way for the government to provide incentive for private enterprise to get it done. Whereas deciding to fund research on a particular fuel source may or may not pan out because they might bet on the wrong horse. Not just wasting money but possibly slowing down the research since private enterprise will have a small set of incentives instead of a broad base incentive.

You're talking about how the government is and I'm talking about how the government should be.

November 5, 2011 9:28 AM

The important questions are not whether the earth is getting warmer or not. Or if it is, whether that was caused by human activity. They are: 1-Is there anything that can be done about it or not (have we passed a point-of-no-return)? 2-If we can do something about it, how much would it cost? And the really big one 3-Would the benefits exceed the costs (substantially exceed them, because there is a notorious history of cost estimates being much lower than actual expenses)?

I don't believe in science as much as I believe in engineering.

November 14, 2011 2:25 AM

The human-caused climate change debate is stupid.. Whether or not it's human-caused, the fact remains that we need to prepare for change.. If an asteroid is flying at earth, do you waste time trying to figure out where it came from? No! You deal with the issue and figure the rest out later. Who or what is causing climate change is completely irrelevant.

January 13, 2014 5:39 PM

@Kirby - Are yo seriously saying that our government is able to do something constructive about Global Warming? It can't even field a decent web site. How can you argue that they ought to do something about climate?

Besides, the climate has changed many times over many millennia. The climate is bigger than all of us. Do you seriously think that man can affect it at all?

January 13, 2014 6:19 PM

Creating a good website and enacting effective measures to reduce global temperatures don't exactly take the same skill set. Assuming that CO2 is a warming agent the end result needed to reduce climatic changes is simple enough in theory, you reduce CO2 emissions. Further Kirby didn't say anything about the government enacting changes. Kirby simply stated that something needs to be done.

The climate is changing, that is undeniable, unless you think fish are swimming further north because they're liberal supporters. That leaves the question, are humans causing the climate change. I don't personally have the knowledge base to look at the data and make a determination myself but I can say that a lot of people that do think humans are and some people that do think humans aren't.

So should we reduce CO2 emissions? Well I don't see any down sides to doing so in a way that doesn't cause harm to the economy. That means just as easily individuals making those choices as nations. Fuel efficient cars are better for air quality in cities and consumers pocket books. At some point oil will run out, no I don't know when, so it'd be nice to have something that is at least as cheap and effective or better ready to go when that happens.

It seems to me the safe thing to do, and you could say the conservative thing to do, is to accept that we might be causing the climate to change and to act accordingly. I've always believe in planning for the worst and hoping for the best. If we do effect a change in behavior that reducing CO2 emissions without undo harm on the economy then we're in a better position regardless of human agency in the underlying problem.

If you could have a world that was completely independent of fossil fuels without any additional cost would it be better than a world dependent on fossil fuels?

Most people would answer that yes. If so then you're already past asking which is better and on to asking how much is the fossil fuel world worth?

January 14, 2014 9:04 PM

You're right that a web site and addressing CO2 require different technical skills, but they both require a degree of managerial cluefulness. Mr. Obama is totally clueless with respect to managing the vast federal bureaucracy.

You are also correct in saying that it would be good to develop alternative energy sources. The question is, how much are we willing to pay for this? German energy costs, especially electricity, have been driven so high by solar subsidies that businesses are building chemical plants in the US where energy costs are a lot lower due to fracking, which the Obama administration opposed.

describes a program to reduce energy use through persuasion, competition, and other non-coercive measures. Those are a very good idea. You're right, it's just too bad that so few people see it as you do.

January 15, 2014 11:24 AM
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