Skeptics often times say that Mars and other planets are warming and that somehow explains why the Earth is warming. They suggest that humans cannot be the cause of global warming since we are not on those other planets.
However, other planets have radically different atmospheres and climates than ours and they get warmer and cooler for reasons that are not related to anything that is happening on Earth.
When the so-called e-mail ‘scandal’ broke out, a number of carefully selected statements from several scientists were chosen to give the false impression that they were engaging in covering up the facts about Global Warming. One of these statements was from Phil Jones, who was quoted as saying:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick […] to hide the decline”.
The entire quote, however, is:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (from 1981 onward) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline”.
Skeptics removed 19 words from mid-sentence (Not including the words in parenthesis).
With this context missing, particularly the phrase “adding the real temps”, it is falsely interpreted to mean that Jones was ‘tricking’ the public and ‘hiding’ something. But does it really mean that or is it a case of professional jargon that was opportunistically quoted out of context?
The word “trick” can be used in two different and opposing ways. One is to fool somebody or play a prank on them. The other more serious definition is to present a shortcut or different way of solving a problem. Every profession, scientific or otherwise, has their own system of solving problems and they adopt the phrase “Tricks of the trade” to show other members different ways of solving a problem or learning something.
Below are examples of how the phrase is used by scientists, doctors, and other professionals:
Also, scientists and other professionals use the word “trick” alone:
Fundamentalist Christians in the United States tend to be Skeptics due to their affiliation with political conservatism. Some of them state that the Bible gave them the right to use the land and therefore they can burn fossil fuels.
For instance, in the first chapter of the Judeo-Christian Bible, God addresses himself to Adam and Eve and says:
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28, New International Version
The problem with their reasoning is that they are using the land recklessly – destroying it. That is something that the Bible has not told them to do. They are thus taking a gift from God and ruining it. If anything, their excuse is sacrilegious; an insult to the God they claim to worship.
An example worth following by Evangelical Christians is that of Katharine Hayhoe, who runs a YouTube channel dedicated to global warming. Below, is her video on how her Evangelical Christian faith leads her to accept the reality of human-caused global warming.
Skeptics claim that the Carbon Dioxide that is being released by the burning of fossil fuels is actually good for the environment. Their argument is based on the logic that, if plants need CO2 for their growth, then more of it should be better. We should expect our crops to be more abundant and our garden flowers to grow taller and bloom brighter.
However, this “more is better” philosophy is not the way things work in the real world. There is an old, wise saying that goes, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” For example, if a doctor tells you to take one pill of a certain medicine, taking four is not likely to heal you four times faster or make you four times better. It’s more likely to make you sick.
It is possible to help increase the growth of some plants with extra CO2, under controlled conditions, inside of greenhouses. It is based on this that Skeptics make their claims. However, such claims are simplistic.
Skeptics fail to take into account that a warmer earth will have an increase in deserts and other arid lands which would reduce the land there is available for crops. The corn in Kansas isn’t going to prosper from an increase in CO2. Cactus, though, will be very happy growing where corn used to grow.
Small things can have large effects.
Skeptics often times tell us that Carbon Dioxide levels in our atmosphere, compared to the other gases, are too small to have any effect on the climate. The assumption is that small amounts of anything cannot have a meaningful impact. Common sense proves that assumption wrong since there are many substances that can affect you even in small amounts.
Imagine that a doctor prescribes some medication and you are supposed to take one capsule a day. That one capsule is very small in size when compared to your body but its effect on your body is what matters, not its size.
Now imagine that you decide to take three or even four times the medicine that the doctor prescribed thinking that you can get well three times faster. Instead of getting better you will overdose on that medication.
Greenhouse gasses, like CO2, are no different. The design of the molecule, not how much of it there is in the atmosphere, is what gives it a much greater ability to retain heat than other gasses. Increase those levels, even by a small amount, and you’ll get warming.
A pie chart measuring the percentage of volume of atmospheric gasses.
Based on an article by John Cook at skepticalscience.com.
Some Skeptics argue that human CO2 emissions are small compared to natural emissions, therefore human emissions are of no consequence. Humans emit 29 gigatonnes (Billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide every year. In contrast, land and vegetation emit 439 gigatonnes and the ocean emits 332 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year. It is obvious that 29 gigatonnes of human emissions are small compared to 771 gigatonnes of natural emissions. But is this the full picture?
Figure 1: Human CO2 emissions compared to natural CO2 emissions in gigatonnes