Predicting the future is the domain of science fiction

By: UncorruptedScience , 9:22 PM GMT on May 16, 2014

Global warming is such an obvious thing even a high school kid can understand it. CO2 retains heat better than O2, and since energy production from hydrocarbons reacts to release CO2 into the atmosphere it must be increasing global temperatures... right?

If only it were that simple.

Why is it that expert meteorologists with a vast body of data can't reliably create forecasts a year in advance (whether for hurricanes, ocean temperatures, much less localized weather)? Is it because they are incredibly dense, or perhaps because the planet is not a box with a single temperature, atmospheric density, and without irregular gravitational, solar, and magnetic pole influences?

The answer is that the real word (tm) is an incredibly complex system, and long term climatic projections are influenced by the same factors over a vastly longer time scale where affects of things like cloud, ice, and macro biological feedback impact things like global albedo and production and absorption of CO2 and O2 which can turn expectations on their heads.

We do know that during the Atlantic period (roughly 6000 years ago) temperatures were warmer than today, and that 20000 years ago during the preceding glacial phase the earth's temperatures were cooler. We even know that during the Cretaceous (specifically as recently as 90 million years ago) global CO2 was nearly 10x current levels. Oh yes, and 125 thousand years ago the world was even hotter than during the Atlantic.

So, could the less than 1% of global CO2 resulting from direct human energy production be affecting the environment? Sure... even a butterfly flapping its wings affects the world, but do we *know* what is going to happen next? Absolutely Not! Much of the data suggests that sequestered CO2 is released as temperatures rise, but there is far less evidence to support it as a definitive cause of global warming when plants response by increasing absorption of CO2 and multiple sources are stimulated to increase the earths albedo which lessens the absorption of solar energy.

Coming from a background in evolutionary biology it amazes me that assertions regarding the future that would be laughed at as science fiction in the field of biology (despite excellent data from fossils and DNA genetics) have managed to convince people to accept them at "settled science" in the field of climatology.

[note: None of this is intended to lessen the import of direct pollution via sulfides or methane release during fuel mining on the air and water supply... in fact those very serious issues are the ones people should be investing in resolving rather than the fantasy thinking that we can stop nature in its tracks]

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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If weather modeling is complex - climate modeling is 1000x as complex

About UncorruptedScience

Primary focus on the true sciences of Paleontology, Genetics, and Evolutionary Biology.