Climate Change – Looking at the Wrong Issues

Yes, global warming is real. I concede the climate is getting warmer and more chaotic. I see it happening in my own favorite Icicle Valley. Further abroad, here’s the latest from Scientific American; and this morning’s Wall Street Journal announced record quarterly losses for insurance companies due to harsh weather. I don’t dispute the data, although I do say that computer models are a slender reed to lean on. However, the reality of climate change is the wrong issue.

First, if you go through the list of big and deadly problems, where does climate change rank, in terms of severity? Consider these three:

  • nuclear proliferation: think of John McCain’s ‘crazy fat kid’ dropping a nuclear weapon on Hawaii, or Seattle;
  • ocean acidification: if you want a reason to dislike carbon dioxide, this might actually be a better reason;
  • microplastics: visualize drowning in a sea of plastic beads.

(Note in the previous paragraph the role of carbon dioxide in both ocean acidification and climate change. Maybe we should treat carbon dioxide as the problem, and relegate climate change and ocean acidification to just symptoms of the problem?)

Then, how certain are we about the causes of climate change? Fans of climate change argue it’s anthropocentric — caused by human action. But humans have only been around for 200,000 years and climate change goes back a lot farther than that. Look at the long-term record of global temperatures shown in the chart below, published by NASA. The chart covers a timespan of 800,000 years. How many of those temperature spikes can we attribute to human agency?

NASA global temperature record

So if the current warming trend is anthropocentric, what about all the earlier ones? What was the cause for the previous temperature spikes? We should believe the mechanism for climate change was one thing then, but a different thing now? Why is that?

Climate change is real, but it seems there are unanswered questions about causes.

Bottom line
Climate change is not the biggest or most urgent problem facing humankind.
The geologic temperature record shows the climate warming and cooling without human input. This should give us more caution in asserting that the current warming trend is caused by humans.