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What Geologists Know About Global Climate Change

In this “Earth Day” season I ponder the contributions of Earth Scientists (Geologists) to our continued prosperity and quality of life. Those who have read my past communications about the role of minerals and mining and their importance to the survival of our communities might be somewhat familiar with the statistics of mining in California and especially San Bernardino county’s contribution to our prosperity (you can see the latest mineral production statistics here). I write today, however, at the time of our Earth Day Celebrations, on the issue of Global Climate Change; I write because all the false and useless mitigations to curb CO2 emissions will hurt only the poor of our global community without having any impacts on climate change.

There have recently been several letters in our local paper (The Daily Press) about global warming. The letters have addressed denial, acceptance, guilt, mitigations and many other issues of this topic. But the real issues are these: What are the Causes of Global Warming and how are we to mitigate any ADVERSE affects to our communities? (There are many positive effects of a warmer planet).

One of our local citizens claims that the answer, as articulated by several POLITICIANS, is to curb man’ activities before it is too late: our two California Senators, the Governator, several HOLLYWOOD actors (and more) and one recent Presidential Candidate insist that MAN is the cause of this round of global warming by “his” attempts to control his environment by generating power in his attempt to elevate the general standard of living: these politicians and actors insist that the man’s generation of CO2 is the cause. Hmmmmm.

Others claim the opposite: denying that warming is happening so why worry? Hmmmmmmm again.

The truth is that (although you would never know it by the coverage of the major media outlets), not all scientists believe that man is the cause of any global climate changes. Geologists (and by that I include meteorologists) are in a unique position to know some useful information about this topic and I wonder and am irritated (and I confess somewhat embarrassed) by the failure of my geologic colleagues to weigh in on this issue. Yes Virginia, there is no consensus among scientists about the real cause of any global change; however there are some facts that can be submitted.

  • Geologists know that our earth emerged from an ice age only 10,000 years ago. During this Ice Age most of the northern hemisphere was covered by huge Ice Sheets. That means that the area covered by the ice was UNIHABITBLE. So, yes the earth is warming and I for one am thankful because the alternative is cooling and that is definitely not so good for the survival of humans. In a warmer world, more of the world is farmable; constructing habitats is easier and cheaper. And although cooling is expensive, humans adapt more easily to heat than extreme cold.
  • Geologists know that we can document several similar Ice Ages throughout the last several 10’s of millions of years. And there is ample evidence for many past ice ages in the over 500 million year record of life on earth. Each ice age was followed by (guess what) a warming period.
  • Geologists know that these past global climate changes happened without any help from MAN, or his activities (culture, and therefore the ability to manage one’s environment only developed during the last 4000 years or so – and the industrial age only for the last 100).
  • Geologists know that man can generate minor local climates in the very specific cases of Urban Heat Engines in metropolitan areas however, in the face of the EVIDENCE of past global climate changes, Geologists know that it is extremely unlikely that man’s activities can in any way, control the global climate changes that WILL continue to occur in the future of our planet. Many scientists, not only geologists, agree with this premise.

These are only some of the things that Geologists know about climate change. The sad tale is that our geological community refuses to comment on these issues because the issue of global warming has been so politicized that to speak out on issue with the particular and relevant knowledge that geologists have would be to go against the extreme politics of the Al Gore “Inconvenient Truth” entertainment movement. This unwillingness to comment says something about the integrity of our scientific communities.

Now, those who have seen Mr. Gore’s movie and think they know all about the facts of global warming must also know (since they are informed citizens) that the “hokey stick” graph that Mr. Gore uses to make his case of human caused global warming, has been thoroughly discredited as scientific data because it does not pass the first test of valid scientific study: it cannot be replicated. The two authors of the “hockey stick” have repeatedly refused to provide the data used to produce the graph to other scientists to substantiate. I wonder how these same “educated” citizens would view the show from the BBC entitled The Great Global Warming Scandal. This documentary has as its center interviews with actual SCIENTISTS. The scientists are leaders in their fields and none have concluded that man’s activities are driving global warming or that CO2 is the primary cause.

I certainly can’t be the only one who questions the motives of an entirely new industry that has risen up to make money on CO2 credits? This is a commodity that all mammals breathe out, that plants on earth need to survive, that the oceans and volcanos spew out in hundreds of thousands of tons every day and now, because of politicians’ directives, now has value? It is no wonder that global energy companies have climbed on board. A pollutant is now a commodity and big companies that have made continued progress in curbing pollutants can now make some real money and not just generate good will. The lack of response of the radical environmental community to this natural capitalistic response is puzzling considering the uproar when the price of a barrel of oil increases.

No, the global climate change issue is being totally politicized with the result that the people that will really need help in the years ahead will certainly not receive it. Yes warming is happening (we are likely in an interglacial period) and the monies that we Californians and Westerners will mandate be used to curb and mitigate CO2 emissions are certainly wasted in an effort to control what cannot be controlled. Would not those monies (quadrillions as estimated by the UN) be better spent on providing a better standard of living for the world’s poor, especially on the African and South American continent?

There is abundant geologic evidence that demonstrates that warming, sometimes extreme warming has occurred in our earth’s past. Global climate fluctuations will continue regardless of the political non-solutions mandated by non-scientists in our political world. Geologists know these things. These non-solutions cost real money, money that could be spent on other real problems facing our global communities. Political considerations have trumped scientific truth with the complicity of the geologic community which could provide some useful information in this debate. By allowing the Al Gore’s of our political class to omit data and overstate the threats of global warming in order to gain political capital, our geological community has sold its soul for a political, not scientific goal.

Dinah Shumway
Geologist
Apple Valley, CA