Edmund Contoski, "Global Warming, Global Myth," Liberty, vol. 22, September 2008. © Copyright 2008, Liberty Foundation. Reproduced by permission. "In the last 1.6 million years there have been 63 alternations between warm and cold climates, and no indication that any of them were caused by changes in carbon dioxide levels." Edmund Contoski is a retired environmental consultant who now serves as a columnist for FORCES International Liberty News Network, an organization that advocates individual liberty unfettered by state-imposed restrictions. In the following viewpoint, Contoski asserts that global warming is scientifically unproven and that the facts reveal that the earth periodically experiences changing climates. He denies that carbon dioxide emissions have any noticeable impact on global temperatures and furthermore claims that human-made emissions are insignificant when compared to the carbon output of natural sources that have always been beyond human control. As you read, consider the following questions:
Why does Contoski argue that carbon dioxide is the weakest of greenhouse gases? What benefits does the author see in warming global temperatures? What hidden political agenda might reside behind global warming alarmism, according to Constoski? During the 20th century, the earth warmed 0.6 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit), but that warming has been wiped out in a single year with a drop of 0.63 degree C. (1.13 F.) in 2007. A single year does not constitute a trend reversal, but the magnitude of that temperature drop—equal to 100 years of warming—is noteworthy. Of course, it can also be argued that a mere 0.6 degree warming in a century is so tiny it should never have been considered a cause for alarm in the first place. But then how could the idea of global warming be sold to the public? In any case, global cooling has been evident for more than a single year. Global temperature has declined since 1998. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide has gone in the other direction, increasing 15-20%. This divergence casts doubt on the validity of the greenhouse hypothesis, but that hasn't discouraged the global warming advocates. They have long been ignoring far greater evidence that the basic assumption of greenhouse warming from increases in carbon dioxide is false. No Connection Between Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming
Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide were not significant before worldwide industrialization began in the 1940s. They have increased steadily since. Over 80% of the 20th century's carbon dioxide increase occurred after 1940—but most of the century's temperature increase occurred before 1940! From 1940 until the mid-1970s, the climate also failed to behave according to the greenhouse hypothesis, as carbon dioxide was strongly increasing while global temperatures cooled. This cooling led to countless scare stories in the media about a new ice age commencing. In the last 1.6 million years there have been 63 alternations between warm and cold climates, and no indication that any of them were caused by changes in carbon dioxide levels. A recent study of a much longer period (600 million years) shows—without exception—that temperature changes precede changes in carbon dioxide levels, not the other way around. As the earth warms, the oceans yield more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, because warmer water cannot hold as much carbon dioxide as colder water. The public has been led to believe that increased carbon dioxide from human activities is causing a greenhouse effect that is heating the planet. But carbon dioxide comprises only 0.035% of our atmosphere and is a very weak greenhouse gas. Although it is widely blamed for greenhouse warming, it is not the only greenhouse gas, or even the most important. Water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas and accounts for at least 95% of any greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide accounts for only about 3%, with the remainder due to methane and several other gases....
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