Global Warming and Climate Change
Facts, Causes, Effects and Hoax: What is Global Warming Climate
Climate Change or Global Warming is a term used to refer to the phenomenon of the increase in global average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans since the late 19th century and its projected continuation. The current warming period possibly reached the same level of warming as occurred during the Medieval Warm Period in the mid-20th century, possibly exceeding it since then.
The harmful effects of climate change include warming temperatures, changing weather patterns, an increase in sea level and in general any climate event affected by global warming. Climate change is one of the top environmental issues, with liberals and conservatives evenly divided on whether global warming is man-made or, if it is significantly occurring, is a natural event — along with global cooling.
Global warming has been blamed on many different natural and man-made causes. However, the planet has been warming since the mid-1800s, but before that it cooled for more than five centuries. Cycles of warming and cooling have been part of Earth's natural climate history for thousands of years. Around 1,000 A.D. until 1950 A.D. there were very large temperature deviations. This has partly been explained by volcanic eruptions and changes in the sun. Around these times, people did not have the technology to impact the Earth in that way. There have been warming and cooling periods in the Earth's recent history without human influence. These facts of course contradicts man-made global warming.
So what is the global warming debate about? It's about the proposition that human use of fossil fuels has contributed significantly to the past century's warming, and that expected future warming may have catastrophic global consequences. But hard evidence for this human contribution simply does not exist; the evidence we have is suggestive at best. Does that mean the human effects are not occurring? Not necessarily. But media coverage of global warming has been so alarmist that it fails to convey how flimsy or insignificant the man-made global warming evidence really is.
In fact, even the other planets in our solar system or experiencing global warming and climate change. This obviously is indicative of sun activity rather than man-made global warming and is proof that the sun is the cause. Most people don't realize that many strong statements about a human contribution to global warming are based more on politics than on science. Indeed, the climate change issue has become so highly politicized that its scientific and political aspects are now almost indistinguishable.
Is Current Warming Natural?
In Earth's history before the Industrial Revolution, Earth's climate changed due to natural causes not related to human activity. Most often, global climate has changed because of variations in sunlight or sun activity. Variations in the Sun itself have alternately increased and decreased the amount of solar energy reaching Earth. Volcanic eruptions have generated particles that reflect sunlight, brightening the planet and cooling the climate. Volcanic activity has also increased greenhouse gases over periods of years, contributing to episodes of global warming.
Earth Warming and Cooling Cycles
Medieval Warm Period
The Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China and other countries, lasting from about AD 950 to 1250. It was followed by a cooler period in the North Atlantic termed the Little Ice Age. Some refer to the event as the Medieval Climatic Anomaly as this term emphasizes that effects other than temperature were important.
Despite substantial uncertainties, especially for the period prior to 1600 for which data are scarce, the warmest period of the last 2,000 years prior to the 20th century very likely occurred between 950 and 1100. Temperatures in some regions matched or exceeded recent temperatures in these regions, but globally the Medieval Warm Period was cooler than recent global temperatures.
A 2009 study by Michael Mann et al. examining spatial patterns of surface temperatures shown in multi-proxy reconstructions finds that the MWP shows "warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions". Their reconstruction of MWP pattern is characterised by warmth over large part of North Atlantic, Southern Greenland, the Eurasian Arctic, and parts of North America which appears to substantially exceed that of the late 20th century (1961–1990) baseline and is comparable or exceeds that of the past one-to-two decades in some regions. Certain regions such as central Eurasia, northwestern North America, and (with less confidence) parts of the South Atlantic, exhibit anomalous coolness.
A radiocarbon-dated box core in the Sargasso Sea shows that the sea surface temperature was approximately 1 °C (1.8 °F) cooler than today approximately 400 years ago (the Little Ice Age) and 1700 years ago, and approximately 1 °C warmer than today 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period).
Roman Warm Period
The Roman Warm Period has been proposed as a period of unusually warm weather in Europe and the North Atlantic that ran from approximately 250 BC to 400 AD. Cooling at the end of this period in south west Florida may have been due to a reduction in solar radiation reaching the Earth, which may have triggered a change in atmospheric circulation patterns.
Theophrastus (371 – c. 287 BC) wrote that date trees could grow in Greece if planted, but could not set fruit there. This is the same situation as today, and suggests that southern Aegean mean summer temperatures in the fourth and fifth centuries BC were within a degree of modern temperatures. This and other literary fragments from the time confirm that the Greek climate during that period was basically the same as it was around 2000 AD. Dendrochronological evidence from wood found at the Parthenon shows variability of climate in the fifth century BC resembling the modern pattern of variation. Tree rings from Italy in the late third century BC indicate a period of mild conditions in the area at the time that Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants.
Pollen: A high resolution pollen analysis of a core from Galicia concluded in 2003 that the Roman Warm Period lasted from 250 BC-450 AD in northwestern Iberia.
Glaciers: A 1986 analysis of Alpine glaciers concluded that the 100 AD to 400 AD period was significantly warmer than the immediately preceding and following periods.
Deep ocean sediment: A 1999 reconstruction of ocean current patterns based on the granularity of deep ocean sediment concluded there was a Roman Warm Period that peaked around 150 AD.
Mollusk shells: An analysis of oxygen isotopes found in mollusk shells in an Icelandic inlet concluded in 2010 that Iceland experienced an exceptionally warm period from 230 BC to 40 AD
Little Ice Age
The Little Ice Age (LIA) was a period of cooling that occurred after the Medieval Warm Period (Medieval Climate Optimum). It has been conventionally defined as a period extending from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, or alternatively, from about 1350 to about 1850.
NASA defines the term as a cold period between AD 1550 and AD 1850 and notes three particularly cold intervals: one beginning about 1650, another about 1770, and the last in 1850, each separated by intervals of slight warming.
Any of several dates ranging over 400 years may indicate the beginning of the Little Ice Age:
1250 for when Atlantic pack ice began to grow
1275 to 1300 based on radiocarbon dating of plants killed by glaciation
1300 for when warm summers stopped being dependable in Northern Europe
1315 for the rains and Great Famine of 1315–1317
1550 for theorized beginning of worldwide glacial expansion
1650 for the first climatic minimum.
The Little Ice Age ended in the latter half of the nineteenth century or early in the twentieth century.
Several causes have been proposed for the Little Ice Age: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the ocean circulation, an inherent variability in global climate, or decreases in the human population.
Effects in Europe and North America
The Little Ice Age brought colder winters to parts of Europe and North America. Farms and villages in the Swiss Alps were destroyed by encroaching glaciers during the mid-seventeenth century. Canals and rivers in Great Britain and the Netherlands were frequently frozen deeply enough to support ice skating and winter festivals. The first River Thames frost fair was in 1607 and the last in 1814; changes to the bridges and the addition of an embankment affected the river flow and depth, hence diminishing the possibility of freezes. Freezing of the Golden Horn and the southern section of the Bosphorus took place in 1622. In 1658, a Swedish army marched across the Great Belt to Denmark to attack Copenhagen. The winter of 1794-1795 was particularly harsh, when the French invasion army under Pichegru could march on the frozen rivers of the Netherlands, while the Dutch fleet was fixed in the ice in Den Helder harbour. In the winter of 1780, New York Harbor froze, allowing people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island. Sea ice surrounding Iceland extended for miles in every direction, closing harbors to shipping.
The population of Iceland fell by half, but this was perhaps caused by fluorosis after the eruption of the volcano Laki in 1783. Iceland also suffered failures of cereal crops, and people moved away from a grain-based diet. The Norse colonies in Greenland starved and vanished (by the early fifteenth century), as crops failed and livestock could not be maintained through increasingly harsh winters, though Jared Diamond noted they had exceeded the agricultural carrying capacity before then. In North America, American Indians formed leagues in response to food shortages. In Lisbon, Portugal, snowstorms were much more frequent than today. Heavy snowfalls in the winters of 1665, 1744 and 1886 were reported.
Hubert Lamb said that in many years, "snowfall was much heavier than recorded before or since, and the snow lay on the ground for many months longer than it does today." Many springs and summers were cold and wet, but with great variability between years and groups of years. Crop practices throughout Europe had to be altered to adapt to the shortened, less reliable growing season, and there were many years of dearth and famine (such as the Great Famine of 1315–1317. According to Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Nugent, "Famines in France 1693–94, Norway 1695–96 and Sweden 1696–97 claimed roughly 10% of the population of each country. In Estonia and Finland in 1696–97, losses have been estimated at a fifth and a third of the national populations, respectively." Viticulture disappeared from some northern regions. Violent storms caused serious flooding and loss of life. Some of these resulted in permanent loss of large areas of land from the Danish, German and Dutch coasts.
The extent of mountain glaciers had been mapped by the late nineteenth century. In both the north and the south temperate zones, snowlines (the boundaries separating zones of net accumulation from those of net ablation) were about 100 m lower than they were in 1975.
In North America, the early European explorers and settlers reported exceptionally severe winters. For example, according to Lamb, Samuel Champlain reported bearing ice along the shores of Lake Superior in June 1608; both Europeans and indigenous peoples suffered excess mortality in Maine during the winter of 1607-1608; and extreme frost was reported in the Jamestown, Virginia settlement at the same time. The journal of Pierre de Troyes, Chevalier de Troyes, who led an expedition to James Bay in 1686, recorded that James Bay was still littered with so much floating ice that he could hide behind it in his canoe on July 1.
Scientists have tentatively identified these possible causes of the Little Ice Age: orbital cycles, decreased solar activity, increased volcanic activity, altered ocean current flows, the inherent variability of global climate, and reforestation following decreases in the human population. The most recent study found that an especially massive tropical volcanic eruption in 1258, possibly of Mount Rinjani, followed by three smaller ones in 1268, 1275, and 1284 that did not allow the climate to recover, may have caused the initial cooling, and that the 1452–53 eruption of Kuwae in Vanuatu triggered a second pulse of cooling. The cold summers can be maintained by sea-ice/ocean feedbacks long after volcanic aerosols are removed.
There is still a very poor understanding of the correlation between low sunspot activity and cooling temperatures. During the period 1645–1715, in the middle of the Little Ice Age, there was a period of low solar activity known as the Maunder Minimum. The Spörer Minimum has also been identified with a significant cooling period between 1460 and 1550. Other indicators of low solar activity during this period are levels of the isotopes carbon-14 and beryllium-10.
The Global Warming Agenda
It is interesting to note how the phrase "climate change" is replacing "global warming" as the catch-phrase of environmentalism. Scientists/climatologists are "certain" that human activity, primarily greenhouse gas emissions, is impacting the environment. What they are not certain about is precisely what the impact will be. A couple of decades ago, "global cooling" was the fear, with warnings of a new ice age being the primary scare tactic. While most scientists/climatologists today believe that global warming is the primary risk, uncertainty has led to "climate change" being used as a less specific warning. Essentially the climate change message is this: greenhouse gas emissions are damaging the environment, and while we are not certain what the effect will be, we know it will be bad.
Climatologists, ecologists, geologists, etc., are unanimous in recognizing that the earth has gone through significant temperature/climate changes in the past. Despite the fact that these climate changes were obviously not caused by human activity, these same scientists are convinced that human activity is the primary cause of climate change today. Why? There seems to be three primary motivations.
First, some truly and fully believe the greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change. They honestly examine the data, and come to the conclusion. Second, some hold to the climate change mindset with almost a religious fervor. Many elements within the environmentalist movement are so obsessed with protecting "mother earth," that they will use any argument to accomplish that goal, no matter how biased and unbalanced it is. Third, some promote the climate change mentality for financial gain. Some of the strongest proponents of climate change legislation are those who stand to have the greatest financial gain from "green" laws and technologies. Before the climate change mindset is accepted, it should be recognized that not everyone who promotes climate change is doing so from an informed foundation and pure motives.
How, then, should we view global warming and climate change? We should view it skeptically and critically, but at the same time honestly and respectfully. Most importantly, though, we should look at climate change biblically. What does the Bible say about climate change? Not much. Likely the closest biblical examples of what could be considered climate change would be the end times disasters prophesied of in Revelation chapters 6-18. Yet, these prophecies have nothing to do with greenhouse gas emissions, but rather are the result of the wrath of God, pouring out justice on an increasingly wicked world, and, not surprisingly, this is caused among other things by the sun: "The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire." (Revelation 16:8)
2 Peter 3:10-12: "But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great force, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness? Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat?"
Also, we must remember that God is in control, and that this world is not our permanent home. God will one day destroy this current Heaven and Earth (2 Peter 3:7-12) and replace it with the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22). How much effort should be made "saving" a planet that God is eventually going to obliterate and replace with a planet so amazing and wonderful that the current earth pales in comparison?
Is there anything wrong with going green? No, of course not. Is trying to reduce your carbon footprint a good thing? Probably so. Are solar panels, wind mills, and other renewable energy sources worth pursuing? Of course. Are any of these things to be the primary focus of followers of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not! As Christians, our focus should be proclaiming the truth of the Gospel, the message that has the power to save souls. Saving the planet is not within our power or responsibility. Climate change may or may not be real, and may or may not be human-caused. What we can know for certain is that God is good and sovereign, and that planet earth will be our habitat for as long as God desires it to be. Psalms 46:2-3, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."