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Let me be the first to tell you what is actually happening with the climate.
A retired USGS Geologist and all around brilliant guy, Dr. Peter Ward (from Jackson Hole, WY) has just published this week a VERY impressive paper (I was lucky enough to review it prior to publication) which clearly throws some light on the Carbon Dioxide’s role in “Global Warming”. While Carbon Dioxide has gotten BIG billing as the culprit green house gas, Dr. Ward’s data clearly shows that CO2 did not initiate the warming that the climate experienced up until 1998 (been cooling since). That prestigious honor is given to Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) which is emitted by volcano’s and burning fossil fuel.
The paper published just this month indicates that the the largest temperature increases in the last 46,000 years has occurred while volcanism was very active. These volcanos pumped too much SO2 into the atmosphere at once. Over the last 2,000 years, the big eruptions occurred at the rate of one per century, but man (since 1962) has been putting as much SO2 into the air as those big volcano’s every 1.7 years. It just so happens that in 1979, there were global efforts to curtail and regulate Sulfur Dioxide because of another of it’s effects called acid rain. These efforts cut emissions significantly by 2000 and global temperatures stopped increasing, a current trend that CO2 climate models aren’t able to account for.
The green house effect of SO2 is indirect. The more SO2 in the upper atmosphere, the less the atmosphere can cleanse itself of other green house gasses particularly Methane (CH4 also known as natural gas). Methane is a green house gas with many times the ability to trap heat that CO2 has. Normally sunlight causes Ozone and other chemicals to form which breaks down the methane which normally resides in the atmosphere for around 27 days. Too much SO2 stops the normal atmospheric cleansing and allows methane a longer residency time causing it to build up. This in turn causes temperatures to build but since we stopped introducing as much SO2, the time lag was around 20 years for the atmosphere to once again clean itself up and cool down.
This cooling should continue unless a major volcano occurs (temporary cooling by the SO2 aerosol followed by significant warming from accumulated methane) or we allow developing countries like china to use high sulfur coal without effective scrubbing on their power plants. I am talking to Dr. Ward about working the suns output into the mix as it does change from time to time. If you ask a solar scientist what causes global warming, he says “the sun”. A variable sun has something to do with some of it, but we will have to wait until this is through into the mix to know the total picture. There is a strong correlation between low numbers of sunspots (inactive sun) and cooling but that is for another paper later.
Suffice to say that I am pretty convinced by the impressive data set presented Dr. Ward paper that SO2 is the big culprit and that CO2 is just a minor player in global warming. Let’s hope that our government doesn’t buy into wholesale elimination of CO2 production and completely change the economy back to the middle ages (It was much warmer then than now! Just look it up.) We don’t need electricity prices tripling in the next 10 years like will occur if “Cap and Trade” legislation passes our congress and hits our industries. This scientific paper needs to circulate big time and you heard about it here first.
For more details, visit Dr. Ward’s website at www.tetontectonics.org