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November 01, 2007

Cause for Global Warming Discovered

The graphs below from an article by Natural Resources Canada show the movement of the magnetic North Pole. As the article says “The change in velocity of the North Magnetic Pole since the early 1970s has been remarkable – 9 km/yr to 41 km/yr.”


And this graph from the report of the Nobel-sharing International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows an accelerated increase in global warming during exactly the same period (left scale is difference from the 1961-1990 average).


Unfortunately the IPCC was distracted by the coincident rise in certain atmospheric gasses and so missed the true cause of global warming. The Director of Natural Resources Canada is precluded from running for President of the US because he wasn’t born here.

OK. This is all junk science. I admit it. Neither Natural Resources Canada nor anyone else I know of has claimed a link between this accelerated movement of the magnetic pole and global temperatures. We could invent a mechanism for cause and effect, however: the location of the magnetic pole affects the shape and poles of the earth’s magnetic field (obviously) which has an effect on incoming cosmic radiation which has an effect on cloud formation which has an effect on reflectivity which has an effect on temperature. It’s a little harder to do the opposite and imagine how warming caused the pole to move but I’m sure some smart reader’ll do that.

All this is just meant as a warning against taking apparent correlations too seriously.

John R. Christy, Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and a participant in the IPCC (he calculates that he is .0001 of a Nobel Laureate) writes in today’s Wall Street Journal:

“I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

“There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations….

“It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

“Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"”

He’s not saying (and I’m not saying) that anthropogenic activity is NOT causing global warming. He is saying we have less than proof and I’m saying we’ve got to stay skeptical even as we take some obvious actions like reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that we’re running short of anyway. The Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth was deserved since it’s an effective and dramatic polemic; a Nobel Prize for shoddy science seems an inducement to substituting rhetoric for thought in making crucial resource allocation decisions.

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