Thursday, March 11, 2010

Answering George Monbiot

George Monbiot asks, in today's Telegraph, "What would it take to persuade you" that humans are causing global warming? He assumes that the answer for most skeptics is nothing. That assumption certainly misses the mark for me. I think I could be convinced that humans are causing global warming if people would address my growing list of concerns.

The thing that would MOST convince me that humans are causing global warming would be to see the "green" movement advocate nuclear power. Nukes are the most obvious solution to CO2 emissions, yet the people who CLAIM to be most passionate about "saving the planet" refuse to take nuclear power seriously. Without that evidence of their good faith, I have to evaluate the science on my own.

My amateur exploration of the science has produced more questions than answers. Here's what it would take to convince ME:

(1) A clear acknowledgment of the diminishing impact of increasing CO2. Putting more paint on a window that has been painted over doesn't decrease the amount of light that gets through it. Doubling the CO2 in an atmosphere that already absorbs most of the spectra that CO2 affects doesn't double the amount of energy that gets trapped.

(2) A clear list of the SECONDARY effects that are supposed to amplify the CO2 effects. I've heard how water vapor and methane are supposed to rise as the planet warms, resulting in a second round of forcing. What other gases are we talking about?

(3) A clear acknowledgment of the impact of solar variability on weather cycles. I don't trust any model that can't explain why ice caps on Mars are retreating.

(4) A clear list of testable predictions made by any climate model--and an equally clear list of anomalies. I don't expect any model to be perfect. I do expect its flaws to be clearly identified!

(5) A clear recognition of the man-made impact on surface temperatures which is unrelated to CO2. Matched-pairs analysis of neighboring measurement stations shows that even a low human population density has a positive impact on temperature--an effect that CANNOT be caused by CO2, since neighboring stations are breathing the same air. This confounding variable MUST be addressed before any temperature dataset can be deemed reliable.

This may seem like a lot to ask, but it's our planet that's at stake.