My goal for this paper is not to materially advance climate science. However, I have found that the global warming skeptic’s case is seldom reported well or in any depth, and I wanted to have a try at producing a fair reporting of the skeptic’s position. I have been unhappy with several of the recent documentaries outlining the skeptic’s case, either because they skipped over a number of critical issues, or because they over-sold alternate warming hypotheses that are not yet well understood. To the inevitable charge that as a non-practitioner, I am not qualified to write this paper --I believe that I am able to present the current state of the science, with a particular emphasis on the skeptic’s case, at least as well as a good reporter might, and far better than most reporters actually portray the state of the science. Through this paper I will try to cite sources as often as possible and provide links for those who are reading this online, this report is best read as journalism, not as a scientific, meticulously footnoted paper.
Years ago, another man not trained in climate started a PowerPoint presentation of what he knew about Global Warming. Over time, he used it both as a vehicle for communication as well as a living document that would evolve over time to reflect his improving knowledge. A lot of people saw Al Gore’s PowerPoint presentation, and it became the backbone for the movie An Inconvenient Truth. I hope to use this blog the same way, as an evolving document to reflect my evolving knowledge.
Before proceeding, I want to make one note on nomenclature. The terms global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, and generally are used in a way that imply man-made causes. For example, when many people speak of global warming, they are actually talking about anthropogenic global warming, meaning warming of the Earth from man-made causes, generally the release of greenhouse gasses including CO2. Of course the climate can, and does, change without man’s help and the Earth can warm without man-made gasses. I will try to be precise in my terminology. I will use global warming to mean literally an increase in Earth’s surface temperatures, no matter what the cause. I will use anthropogenic global warming, or AGW, to mean the theory that man is causing some or all of the current warming.