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Global Warming / Climate Change – Old or New?

March 3, 2011

Driving home from a renewable energy meeting, the term “Global Warming” came to mind and wondered when it was first used or something to that affect. Thinking this would be an ungodly task; a site called “Climate & Energy” was easily found, which included a historical record of global warming amongst a host of other highly relevant topics, http://www.energysustained.com/index.htm .

The site was a labor of love by Peter Osman who worked as an engineer and scientist for 35 years. In Peter’s own words “The aim of this site is to present reliable information from referenced sources on: global warming, its possible causes, impacts, and some options that may help; and to let the data speak for itself. Acknowledging the controversial nature of the topic, he allowed for improvements and changes by stating: “If you have data, questions, corrections or comments please feel free to email me.”

He created a compressive repository of useful information covering: Climate & Energy, Global Warming, Possible Causes of Global Warming, Impacts & Responses, and Energy Resources & Options. Whether you believe or don’t believe in Climate Change / Global Warming, I strongly suggest you stop by. Little is in Peter’s own words. He plays on a level playing field for both sides. He has done a commendable job of referencing reliable information from the scientific community. For those who believe in anthropogenic climate warming, you will have must to support your argument. For those who don’t trust scientific data and fact, you will have must to argue about for years to come.

Since this discussion is on the history of Global Warming, Peter states:

“The following quotations are taken from a detailed article with extensive references by Spencer Weart. They give some historical background and I found it helpful to realize that the ideas behind global warming had developed over so long a period.”

Fourier 1824
“What determines the average temperature of a planet like the Earth? When light from the Sun strikes the Earth’s surface and warms it up, why doesn’t the planet keep heating up until it is as hot as the Sun itself? Fourier’s answer was that the heated surface emits invisible infrared radiation, which carries the heat energy away into space. But when he calculated the effect with his new theoretical tools, he got a temperature well below freezing, much colder than the actual Earth.  The difference, Fourier recognized, was due to the Earth’s atmosphere. Somehow it kept part of the heat radiation in.”

Tyndall 1863
“As a dam built across a river causes a local deepening of the stream, so our atmosphere, thrown as a barrier across the terrestrial rays, produces a local heightening of the temperature at the Earth’s surface.”

James Croll 1875
“James Croll worked as a janitor and clerk in institutions where he could be near the books he needed to develop his influential theory of the ice ages. Croll noted how the ice sheets themselves would influence climate. When snow and ice had covered a region, they would reflect most of the sunlight back into space. The Sun would warm bare, dark soil and trees, but a snowy region would tend to remain cool.”

Arrhenius 1896
“Svante Arrhenius, in his pioneering 1896 study of how changes in the amount of CO2 may affect climate. Following the same line of reasoning as Tyndall, Arrhenius pointed out that an increase in the blocking of heat radiation would make for a smaller temperature difference between summer and winter and between the tropics and the poles. He also calculated that the consequences of adding CO2 and warming the planet a bit would indeed be amplified because warmer air held more water vapor. In a sense, raising or lowering CO2 acted mainly as a throttle to raise or lower the really important greenhouse gas, H2O. He further estimated what might happen if the amount of gas in the atmosphere, at some distant time in the past or future, was double its present value. He computed that this would bring roughly 5 or 6 °C of global warming.”

Well there you go. Even some 190 years ago there was a rudimentary understanding of the delicate balance the earth’s surface temperate and the atmosphere. What does all this mean, not sure? But it allowed me to find a reliable and impartial source of relevant information.

Some will cheer the work, others will still refute it on the ground that Peter is a scientist, and therefore, by default biased. Well stand in line, scientists themselves have been challenging the notion of the cause(s) of climate change and global warming for some time. Guess all scientists are not created equal and fall into the “Good Scientist” or “Bad Scientist” category depending on which camp they support in reference to your own beliefs.

Only through a systematic method of Awareness, Assessment, Analysis, Alternatives, Appointment, and Action will the truth ever be known.

In my word, “Knowledge comes from finding the answers, but understanding the meaning of the answers is what brings wisdom.”

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