Climate Change 101 Establishing Facts

Climate Change 101 Establishing Facts in Debate
Orion Simerl
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I am person in pursuit of purposes related to political, economic, and social reform, motivated by liberty and the inherent logic in self interest therein. As such a person, climate change is a subject of interest and contention, recognizing a free species requires a planet with adequate habitable surface area to support the population.

There are few things more uncomfortable than listening to two people trying to debate climate change and the causes. This article is inspired by viewing a podcast that produced such discomfort. As is the case in most public disagreements, human beings ability to reason is reduced to my dad said verses your dad said. This is to say one person says most scientists say this, and the other one says but these scientists say this. It is worse to see the one who is correct because he is no better than the one who is incorrect, forming a strong opinion about something he cannot articulate based on values of authority.

When I am debating with someone about climate change, I establish the facts and then methodology to discover where their contention actually lies. Often simultaneously. Climate change for all the controversy is not a very complicated subject.

What are the facts and which being disputed?

Measurements of the global average temperature and atmospheric composition haven been recorded definitively since 1880 and records exist prior to 1880 but are less certain in regard to global averages because measurement were not taken enough locations.

1:We know the global average temperature for the last 140 years definitively as well as parts per million of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. (1)

2:We know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas meaning it prevents heat from radiating back into space.

3: We know that burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

4: We know that that decreasing vegetation such as logging increases CO2 levels as the carbon contained within living vegetation is released and CO2 isn’t absorbed through metabolic processes.

5: We know the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 1880 was 291ppm and today it is 414ppm.(2)

6: We know the global average temperature has risen by about 1 degree Celsius during the same time. (3)

7: We know through ice cores the atmospheric composition and global average temperature for the last 800 thousand years. The bubbles within the ice preserve the composition of the air, and the isotopes within the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen reveal temperature. (4)

8: CO2 has not exceeded 300ppm in 800,000 years. (5)

Because of 1, 6, and 7 we know carbon dioxide has increased and the global average temperature has increased. Meaning global warming is happening. Because of 2,3,4, and 8 we know that human activity is the cause for the increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the increase in the global average temperature. The climate denier is now forced to disagree with the facts and cannot simply choose to believe a different authority.

What is the dispute? If the dispute is with CO2 causing an increase in temperature there are experiments an individual can be referred to that demonstrate this cause and effect relationship. More importantly, these experiments can be reproduced by the individual. This is the first point that must be established with the climate denier. Of course what constitutes proof is the subjective discretion of the denier. Meaning even showing a video of an experiment (transparent box heated with light with thermometer, and a box with a C02 feed heated by light and thermometer) (6) demonstrating C02 as a cause of temperature rise may not be enough to establish the fact with the most invested denier.

A climate debate begins with establishing CO2 increases the temperature. Once this fact is established the denier is a few facts away from understanding climate change. The next phase is to establish the human contribution to CO2 levels. The easiest way to articulate this fact is through motor vehicle emissions testing. CO2 levels are listed in the report. You have a clear and nearly undeniable link to CO2 emissions and human activity.

Human activity = +CO2 = +temperature = ?

Before the implications of anthropogenic global warming can be considered the validity of measurements must be established. You cannot begin discussing the effects and potential effects of climate change until the denier understands how measurements are made and projected.

The easiest understandable record is the temperature record because everyone trusts the measurements of thermometer. This is also the place where climate is distinguished from weather. We can state with supreme confidence that we know the global average temperature from 1880 onward. The global average temperature is an indication of climate, where measurements are made around the world and the average of these temperatures is the global average temperature. This is why the annual average temperature can decrease in one part of the world but warming is still occurring because temperature increases are greater than the areas where a decrease is recorded.

We need to establish CO2 measurements, as well as temperature predating recorded measurements. The understanding of CO2 measurements from ice cores is not something that is difficult to grasp. Anyone who has made an ice cube understands how air becomes trapped in ice. Air bubbles are trapped in the ice that preserve a record of composition from earlier periods. Comparing the ice cores to recorded atmospheric composition and temperature determines the accuracy of the findings.

The temperature record through ice cores is more difficult to explain and will not be grasped by most people who do not have a solid understanding of chemistry. It either has to be accepted on authority or not accepted. Temperature is ascertained by comparing the isotopes to standard mean ocean water, as evaporation and condensation causes fractionation, where an atom loses neutrons, and this process is temperature dependent. I don’t’ know how the temperature determination is made in deconstruction of the process.

Believing pre-recorded temperature rise isn’t required to accept global warming is occurring and it is man made. Pre-recorded global average temperature is used to demonstrate the correlation between CO2 levels and other greenhouse gases and temperature. In this we create a historical basis for greenhouse gases and temperature: if CO2 levels were x and this cause a global average temperature of y, then we know by approaching a CO2 level of x we will see a temperature increase of y, or more based on relative solar output. We lose the benefit of historical forecasting if the deniers skepticism prevents him from accepting scientists have the ability to understand past climate through isotopes, and this is a reasonable point of divergence because it can not be demonstrated through easily observable processes.

We have established that human activity causes increases in CO2, which causes a higher global average temperature. What does this mean?

Some effects are already observable in extreme weather, where we have weather events occurring where previously these events did not occur, or did not occur with intensity and frequency with which they are presently occurring: hurricanes, tornados, flooding, droughts, reduction and depletion of water sources, among others. Climate change can be seen as a cause for many of these events by calculating the probability that they would occur with the frequency and intensity they are observed without the influence of our warmer world. As things are now, climate change in manageable and unperceivable to most of the population. When we are warning about climate change we are focusing on what we can expect in anticipated CO2 emissions, temperature, and the consequences of a warmer world.

1: Human beings must reduce global emissions by 40 to 70% by 2050 to maintain CO2 concentrations below 480ppm which should ensure a global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. This scenario also requires the implementation of technology that does not exist in scale to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

2: If nations deliver on their pledges to reduce greenhouse gases, CO2 levels are expected to reach 580 to 720ppm and a temperature increase of 2.3 to 2.9 degrees C by 2100.

3: If we do nothing 720 to 1000ppm and an increase of 3.1 to 3.7 degrees by 2100.

4: If we do nothing and emissions continue to increase at the present rate over 1000ppm and an increase of 4.1 to 4.8 degrees by 2100. (7)

1: The first scenario is not only extremely unlikely, but probably unachievable by now. Let’s look at the trend: in the last 20 years we have failed to achieve a global reduction of emissions by even 1%, meaning there is no reason to believe we will achieve 40 to 70% in the next 30 years. Additionally, the scenario relies on carbon scrubbing technology that doesn’t exist in scale, strategy for application, or fulfilling a market need. We’re past this.

2: If nations deliver on their pledges this is supposed to keep emissions below 720ppm. The United States has abandoned their pledges and refused to meaningfully participate in global conferences on climate change. Not only has the US abandoned pledges made under previous administrations, previous administrations and the present administration is promoting fossil fuel extraction, refinement, and burning.

3 and 4: I am lumping together because they are basically the same scenario. If we do nothing emissions are going to rise at the present rate. There were a few years when in the increase in emissions was reduced to a 1% increase in annual carbon emissions, but in the last few years annual increases returned to their average rise of 3%. (8) You see the infrastructure your tax dollars largely pay for, but this represents a very small percentage of energy used. Wind and solar represent only 8.4% of electricity generated (9), and in a market with ever growing demand for energy. In the last decade I surmise the amount of energy generated from the aforementioned renewable sources is probably less than the increase in energy demand over the last 10 years. As mentioned in the previous scenario, we’re not moving away from fossil fuel energy, we’re expanding our efforts to exploit it. We should be looking at 3 and 4.

For those who don’t trust the models we can forecast how we reach such a high concentration over the next 80 years.

1959 to 1964 CO2 increased by an average of .73 ppm per year.
1965 to 1974 CO2 increased by an average of 1.06ppm per year
1975 to 1984 CO2 increased by an average of 1.44ppm per year
1985 to 1994 CO2 increased by an average of 1.42ppm per year
1995 to 2004 CO2 increased by an average of 1.87ppm per year
2005 to 2014 CO2 increased by an average of 2.11ppm per year (11)

In the last 50 years CO2 emissions have doubled. In 2014 CO2 levels were 398ppm.

By adding the increases over the last 5 decades (.38-.02+.45+.23 = 1.05) and dividing by 4 provides us with the average increase per year (.26) for the next decade (2015 to 2024)

2015 to 2024 annual emissions should average 2.37ppm ( 2005 to 2014: 2.11 + decade average increase .26). If the next 50 years is the same as the previous 50 years, and there is no evidence to suggest they will be different, the last decade should be double the first decade: 4.74ppm per year in the last decade. We calculate the average per year increase by adding the first decade (2.37) with the last decade (4.74) = 7.11ppm, and divide by 2 = 3.55.

50 years with an average annual increase of 3.55ppm in CO2 is = 177ppm by 2064. By 2064, we can anticipate a total of 565ppm (2014 level of 398 + 177 accumulated between 2015 and 2064). This corresponds to the second end of the century scenario of 2.5 to 3 degrees warming.

Lets project another 50 years to get an average and know where we should be by the end of the century. 4.74 and .26 is an even 5 for the next decade, meaning the last decade will be 10 and the average is 7.5 annually for the next 50 years. 36 years times 7.5ppm per year = 270ppm added between 2064 and 2100. A total of 834ppm by the end of the century.

You probably don’t understand climate models and I’m not familiar with them either. What I do understand is a consistent trend for which there is no reason to believe will meaningfully change, and basic arithmetic.

When we talk about climate change we should be talking about 4 degrees by the end of the century. We should understand why and we should understand how, and we should be able to articulate that simply when someone has a differing opinion. A person should be embarrassed to say they believe in climate change because most scientists say. You’re no better than the person who says they don’t believe because you’re accepting something based on authority not on understanding. Which is how this species has trained itself and is largely responsible for the state of the world including the impending extinction.

We return to the simple things we know: human activity = +CO2 = +temperature =?

4 degree warmer world is a world where the entire United States is incapable of growing food, consisting of desert and areas uninhabitable due to extreme weather and flooding. There will be very few people living here. Not the United States only everything between the latitude of the northern United States to the southern tip of South America will be uninhabitable. Nearly everything in the eastern hemisphere will mirror the western hemisphere in that range. There are a few exceptions, a strip in Africa and two small portions of Australia, but Southeast Asia, Europe below the UK, most of China, India, will be desert or uninhabitable due to extreme weather. Habitable areas will exist where food can grow in Canada, the UK, Russia, and western Antarctica.(12)

The previously cited map forecasts this world where there is a civil migration and humanity carries on in a four degree warmer world, which is unlikely for obvious reasons, but we’re not stopping at 4 degrees. “Chance of avoiding five degrees of global warming: negligible if the rise reaches four degrees and releases trapped methane from the sea bed.” (13)

A 5 degree warmer world is described as a world where people have nothing to buy, because people have nothing to sell, because nothing can be produced. Of course there is no reason to believe human beings will simply migrate to areas presently sparsely populated due to inhospitable winters. The greatest military force the world has ever seen is going to what? Liquidate its assets distribute it to the population and the entire United States, Mexico, Central, and most of South America is going to move to Canada and West Antarctica? How about the nuclear powers of India and Pakistan, will they be welcomed into Russia? All of Africa will congregate into a unified country about 1/10th the size of the continent? A few billion Chinese are going to move to Russia? The United States uses military force and the threat of force to serve its interests in the world. I don’t think we need to worry about what the climate will be in 2100 on the present trajectory. A confrontation due to decreasing habitable surface area escalating into a nuclear war should render the species close to extinct prior to the end of the century.

The question is, for those who profit from fossil fuels, why aren’t they concerned? There was a quote dubiously assigned to Jay Gould railroad tycoon “I could pay one half of the working class to kill the other half of the working class”. (14) Are we talking about total extinction and a completely unlivable earth? Maybe in the nuclear scenario but maybe not. If 99% of the population died that still leaves 1% of the population. Who do you think survives? Naturally the top .4 percent of wealth holders globally and .6 percent who possess the most human capital. The rest will die fighting wars, from natural disasters, starvation, thirst, and disease.

The other reason these people are not concerned is because they should be dead in 20 to 30 years and will miss most of the excitement.

What do we do? Green New Deal?
On perhaps the lowest stage I have been a frequent critic of the Green New Deal. Actually less of a critic and more of an observer of the obvious. The Green New Deal is a list of goals associated with climate change, sustainability, and other social concerns. The passage of the resolution will create a select committee who is then tasked with creating the plan to achieve those goals. The GND as it stands now is nothing. It isn’t a plan to build, subsidize, or allocate (except for select committee related research), or to do anything.

The GND receives a great deal of attention as if it could be passed and we would instantly begin this comprehensive restructuring of the economy. I say the GND doesn’t exist an people think I’m crazy. The difference between our perspectives is based on two distinctions: 1: I have read the GND and they have not. Or 2: they don’t understand the difference between a list of goals and a plan to achieve those goals.

The GND is like a person who sits down and creates a wish list and calls it his own new deal. He wants 10 million dollars, a new car, a new house, and a list of other items included in his ideal world. He begins telling people he has a new deal in his life that is going to bring him all these things. People decide they are either for it or against it without asking how any of this is going to be accomplished. The same as the GND is a list with no real how associated with it. You have an attractive articulate bartender capable of exhibiting passion and no one’s questioning what she’s actually produced?

Here is a sample:

it is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal—
(A) to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
(B) to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
(C) to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;
(D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—
(i) clean air and water;
(ii) climate and community resiliency;
(iii) healthy food;
(iv) access to nature; and
(v) a sustainable environment;

Nowhere in the text is there a plan to accomplish any of this. Sure it is generally mentioned in the text as in

(E) upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification;

But this doesn’t tell us anything.

How are you going to upgrade these buildings to achieve maximum efficiency? What technology, at what cost, is going to save how much, have what impact, and how will it be implemented? Will the owner be incentivized to make the upgrades? Will the government mandate the owners make the upgrades through regulation? Will the government pay for the upgrades outright? Is it an efficient use of public funds in an effort to reduce emissions or is there other areas where the money could be spent better to achieve the intended purpose? Where does it rank in priority to other spending to reduce emissions and transition to renewable energy?

What’s interesting is republicans have not pointed this out. They probably feel their audience generally isn’t up to the task of comprehension, and this is both sides, but there is a more important reason. If Trump is reelected which doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility considering the focus of politics in the last 3 years, it will be by mobilizing people on their fear of socialism and the focus of politics.

Democrats focused on Russian collusion when the relevant data of the impressions and quality of the impressions used to influence public opinion showed Russia to be an insignificant factor. Now attention is on impeachment and obstruction. Maybe Trump is guilty of obstruction, I don’t know all the details because it isn’t a subject of interest, but the establishment democrats understand the implications of continuing with this strategy. To put it in perspective the Russian collusion allegations are the same to republicans as the birth certificate issue was with Obama for democrats. Now the obstruction allegations which probably have some level of credibility are seen by many not only on the right, but in your center, as being about as credible as your Russian collusion allegations.

It better serves the republican interest to associate the GND with socialism, and associate socialism with mismanagement under the Maduro Administration, which has been exacerbated by the US economic blockade of Venezuela. I’m not pro-socialism because of potentials for mismanagement, but socialism has never had an opportunity to freely exist unobstructed by foreign interference.

I definitely do not support socialism in the United States for reasons I will explain, but there are places where socialism has, and has the potential to produce good results. The gains made for Venezuela under Chavez were incredible in his first 10 years: an average of 13 percent growth annually, most of which was in the private sector, mass reductions in poverty, extreme poverty, infant mortality, gains in access to medical care, nutrition, education, and employment.(15)

The problem was failing to prepare or adjust to falling oil prices. You cannot finance a budget that is the product of a main export having a price that is twice as high as it will be within a decade. You have to diversify public investment to create a stream of revenue to make up for the short fall. Invest in manufacturing, create an import substitution program (16) where a public company can produce items that are typically imported, guaranteeing a demand for the product that will ensure profit. Prepare a strategy for self sufficiency of basic needs as extreme shortages of goods create unmanageable inflation and the highest level of dissatisfaction among the population.

Develop the full potential of your resources by allowing foreign investment. Foreign investment is only a bad thing when the nation of the investment exercises near exclusive power over the terms by which investment takes place (Free trade agreements). As a nation, you can dictate the terms to ensure the agreement is advantageous for your people. For whatever reason this did not happen and we have what we have in Venezuela.

The GND and even other ideas like those of Warren or Sanders are still an effort by the government to intervene to alleviate some of the stress related to circumstances, but people are left powerless over the major decisions that determine their circumstances. The worst aspect of these politicians is they know they cannot deliver on their inspiring promises. They will get half of one idea for complete concessions as Obama was successful in accomplishing, or they’ll get nothing at all. When I say half of an idea for complete concessions on others I am not talking democrats and republicans, I am talking class interests which are represented (industrial interests) and unrepresented (bottom 80%) by both parties.

The difference with a Center for Economic Planning is people have the power to decide and profit from accomplishing all the goals associated with the GND as well as any other issues they seek to address. Not to mention removal of obstructions in congress from preventing popular legislation, or creating a fluid democratic process in a system designed to prevent it. A Center for Economic Planning is putting the money and the power in the hands of the people. It is the doorway to liberation. Details available at

6 out of 10 Americans believe scientists. (17) Which is to say they believe climate change is caused by human activity, is occurring, and is a threat to human civilization, if not human existence. What do we do to inform the other 40% of the country?

The reason I began writing this is because most of the 60% who acknowledge climate change and its causes, are not informed themselves. They read an article about permafrost melting early and this is the extent of their argument. People need to inform themselves. Second, I don’t know what the benefit is of obstructing traffic and people’s daily lives holding signs which are as much a sign of your ignorance as your zeal, in places where most people acknowledge climate change. You can identify the places where climate skepticism is most concentrated based on the positions of their elected representation. You cannot win a seat in the house or senate on a climate skepticism platform unless the population consists of, or has been molded into climate skeptics.

You find financial backing to fund presentations. The presentations consists not only of the facts but of establishing the facts through live experiments as mentioned previously. Boxes, thermometers, a light, and CO2. We establish CO2 traps heat. A CO2 monitor scanning the tailpipe of a running automobile, we establish human activity as a cause. We explain the data and the methodology. People leave not more resolute in their position because they just finished a game of my daddy said verses your daddy said, but with a new understanding of the climate and likely impacts of the changing climate on this trajectory.

The other effect of this is people will realize the people they rely on for information, are either intentionally misleading them or are ignorant. Either way, they are either untrustworthy, or incompetent, and in either case, lack desirable leadership qualities.

Finally, is my methodology perfect? Certainly there are other factors, and many of these factors include anticipated change. However, anticipated change is not likely, which is to say our present trajectory this is a conservative course. Conservative because other greenhouse gases and feedback is not considered. There are increases in methane due to natural gas extraction, and melting permafrost. A few days ago there was a Reuters article that highlighted the discovery of permafrost melting that models didn’t expect to melt for 70 years. Beneath the permafrost there is plant and animal material that will decay and release methane as it thaws. I don’t think scientists know how much methane to expect. They may, perhaps there is an average per cubic yard of earth in regard to how much material will decay I don’t know. The point is, while science can critique the precision of my assessment, I doubt the majority of opinion would contend the general conclusions. The difference between this assessment, models, and opinions of scientists, is this assessment uses methods that can be understood by the general population, and easily reproduced to inform through exposure.

1: Nasa Earth Observatory. Article charts and explains temperature trend since 1880.

2: Nasa Records of CO2 Emissions determined through ice core record pre 1950, post 1950 direct measurements. What’s interesting is this chart was created after 2007 and projected the global concentration to reach 404 by the end of 2018. Actual recorded concentration is 414. References: 1850-1957: D.M. Etheridge, L.P. Steele, R.L. Langenfelds, R.J. Francey, J.-M. Barnola and V.I. Morgan, 1996, J. Geophys. Res., 101, 4115-4128,”Natural and anthroupogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn”. 1958-1974: Means of Scripps Institution of Oceanography Continuous Data at Mauna Loa and South Pole provided by KenMaarie (personal communication) 1975-1982: Means of NOAA/CMDL in-situ data at Mauna Loa and South Pole. (P. Tans and K.W. Thoning, 1983-2003: Global means constructed using about 70 CMDL CCGG Sampling Network station data. (P.P. Tans and T.J. Conway, 2004-2007: Global mean growth rates. (T. Conway, 2019 414.14 Record from Mauna Loa Observatory

3: Forbes, “Exactly How Much Has the Earth Warmed and Does it Matter?”, 9/17/2018, by Earl J. Ritchie.

4: Scientific American “How Past Temperatures are Determined by Ice Cores”, by Robert Muvaney.

5: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. “800,000 Year Ice Core Records of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”, Dome C 800,000-year record: European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) members: D., M. Le Floch, B. Bereiter, T. Blunier, J.-M. Barnola, U. Siegenthaler, D. Raynaud, J. Jouzel, H. Fischer, K. Kawamura, and T.F. Stocker. Vostok 400,000-plus-year record: J.R.Petit, Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l’Environnement , Grenoble, France.

6: Myth Busters CO2 Experiment

7: Carbon Brief “Degrees of Change: The IPCC’s Projections on for Future Temperature Rise. 4/15/2014. See chart on bottom of page.

8: Carbon Brief. “Analysis: Fossil-Fuel Emissions in 2018 Increasing At Fastest Rate for Seven Years”. By Zeke Hausfather.

9: US Energy Information Administration 1.6% solar, 6.6% wind.

10: A few stories related to fossil fuel expansion from the present and previous US presidential administrations. A: New York Times, “Obama Shifts to Speed Oil and Gas Drilling in the US” 5/14/2011, by John M. Broder. B: Independent “Trump Administration Reveals Plans to Open Protected Artic Land to Oil and Gas Development” Andrew Buncombe, 12/20/2018
The Guardian “Trump Condemned Over Plans to Allow Drilling Near National Parks”. Cassidy Randall, 9-14-2018 C: CNBC “Oil and Gas Firms are Ready to Spend as Confidence Grows, Survey Says”. David Reid 1-21-2019. “85 percent of American executives questioned believed there were reasons to expect an increase in drilling in 2019.”–gas-firms-ready-to-spend-as-confidence-grows-survey-says.html?fbclid=IwAR3L1531YIFTcBE1g-AJaWvA8GZyH5DvyV8-8nkvkTW9cTU-oOrNQ7b4gvI D: CNBC, “BP Has Discovered a Billion Barrels of Oil in the Gulf of Mexico”. Tom DiChristopher, 1-9-2019

11: CO2 Earth “CO2 Acceleration” Mauna Loa Observatory 1958 to 2014

12: Big Think “What Will the World Look Like 4 (Degrees) C Warmer”, 5/22/2017, by Frank Jacobs.

13: “A Degree by Degree Explanation of What Will Happen When the Earth Warms”, 6/24/2019.

14: I say dubiously assigned because the only documented source is from a labor magazine which certainly has motivation for attributed such a quote to him. At the same time I mention the quote not because he did or did not say it, but because of the truth in the sentiment.

15: Center for Economic and Policy Research, The Chavez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators. By Mark Weisbrot, Rebecca Ray and Luis Sandoval, February 2009. Pg 3

16: Import substitution programs were implemented I believe in the 60s and lasted into the 80s in various Latin American countries. In some countries like Mexico they did well and in others they did not. I mention this because there is a fairly decent chance Venezuela had one in the past and critics would point to a the failed attempt in an effort to criticize my recommendation of them. Of course a program failing is not conclusive evidence of the idea failing, as credit for the failure can rest with implementation or even interference from a foreign influence where leaders implement the program intent on failure.

17: The Hill, “Poll: A Record Number of American’s Believe in Man Made Climate Change”. 7/11/2018, By Justin Wise.

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