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FAQs and Myths

Weather extremes such as droughts, floods, hurricane, tornadoes, and heat waves have become more common.

Scientists have studied this issue and come to the opposite conclusion: extreme events are becoming LESS common. Atlantic hurricanes were much more numerous from 1950 to 1975 than from 1975 to present. Hailstorms in the US are 35% less common than they were fifty years ago. Extreme rainfall in the US at the end of the 20th century is comparable to what it was at the beginning of the 20th century.  Roger Pielke, Jr, in the journal Climatic Change (1999) said “it is essentially impossible to attribute any particular weather event to global warming.” For flooding, Pielke did list a number of important non-climatic factors that have the potential to influence flooding in the future, including deteriorating dams and levees, changes in land use, building in flood-prone areas, governmental policies, as well as other societal influences. Pielke, R.A., JR.  1999.  Nine fallacies of floods.  Climatic Change 42: 413-438.

In his recent movie, former Vice President Al Gore, said: “If you look at the ten hottest years ever measured, they all occurred in the last fourteen years, and the hottest of all was 2005.”

The ten hottest years ever measured happened thousands of years ago and 2005 was not one of them. Gore must be using only temperature readings from the 125 year thermometer set, a very short time to look at when one is trying to understand Global Warming, but this period of time suits the environmentalists because it is a time in which temperatures happened to be wandering up. Alarmists refuse to look at the big picture because it shows what they refuse to believe. For the US, the recently revised NASA GISS Annual Mean temperatures show 6 of the 10 warmest years were from the 1920s to the 1950s and only 4 since 1990.

The big picture is that for the last eleven thousand years, Global Temperatures have been going sideways while wandering up and down between 54 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In this eleven thousand years there have been five up-spikes hotter than the year 2005. The current rise in temperature is merely a medium size upward movement; of more importance, is the current high spike in CO2 levels, which is the real Hockey Stick of Global Warming.

Renowned climatologist Roger Pielke, Sr. has used IPCC’s estimates of climate forcing to calculate the contribution of CO2 to recent climate change. Pielke makes very conservative (worst-case) assumptions in considering the impacts of greenhouse gases, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and solar radiation. This analysis ignores land use changes, which have been demonstrated to affect climate in a significant way, and cosmic rays, which affect cloud cover and thus can lead to significant climate changes.

Pielke’s estimate is that CO2 is responsible for 28% (at most) of the human-caused changes. If natural variations do occur (and it’s very hard to argue that they do not) then this value decreases. But even if one assumes that the entire 0.6 deg C increase since 1900 is due to human effects, Pielke’s estimate would suggest a CO2 contribution of only 0.17 deg C.

Modern temperatures remain lower than other periods within the Holocene (since the last Ice Age).  Geologists and paleoclimatologists believe that the warmest conditions in the Holocene occurred several thousand years before Christ, and that several such episodes occurred. The most recent warm period occurred in medieval times 800-1200 years ago.  Richard A. Muller and Gordon J. MacDonald, “Chapter 1:  Brief Introduction to the History of ClimateIce Ages and Astronomical Causes 2000)

Climate has been stable for a long time but now is getting increasingly extreme.

Climate swings are nothing new. Between 800 and 1300 AD, much of the world was several degrees warmer than today. People grew wine grapes in England, figs in Germany, assorted crops in Greenland. Then came the Little Ice Age, and temperatures considerably colder than today persisted until the climate warmed again around 1900. The likely cause? Changes in the sun’s energy output, or perhaps the Earth’s orbit, say Harvard-Smithsonian scientists Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. 

CO2 is a pollutant.

CO2 is an essential nutrient for plants.  Plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen, while animals inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. Researchers have proven that higher CO2 concentrations enable plants to grow faster and give them better drought tolerance. 

CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas. 

Not even close. Most of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor, which is about 100 times as abundant in the atmosphere as CO2 and thus has a much larger effect. 

The greenhouse effect is a bad thing.

The greenhouse effect is necessary for life on earth as we know it, were it not for the greenhouse effect, temperatures on Earth would be about 60 degrees F (33°C) colder than they are at present. The global warming discussions center on the claims that human enhancement of the greenhouse will raise temperatures, and that these will be large compared with natural variations. ( and Sherwood B. Idso, Craig D. Idso and Keith E. Idso, “The Specter of Species Extinction: Will Global Warming Decimate Earth’s Biosphere?,

Modeling the earth’s climate is nearly an exact science.

General Circulation Models (GCMs) vary by a factor of 3 in their forecasts; they require arbitrary adjustments; and they cannot properly simulate clouds. Their forecasts of substantial warming depend on a positive feedback from atmospheric water vapor (WV). Many of the natural variations (sunlight, El Niño, volcanoes, and so on) cannot be predicted with any skill in the future.  (George Taylor, “Science Wake Up Call: There is More Hype Than Truth,” National Association of Manufacturers, May 2004)

Summers will be extremely hot and dry.

According to greenhouse physics, the effects of increases in greenhouse gases will be much more significant in the driest air. This occurs in the coldest regions (cold air is able to hold much less water, in the form of water vapor, than warm air) ¯ the polar regions, in winter, at night. Temperature effects in tropical or mid-latitude regions and in summer are expected to be much less significant.  (George Taylor, “Science Wake Up Call: There is More Hype Than Truth,” National Association of Manufacturers, May 2004). Also see how most all midwest summer heat records are still back in the 1930s 0r 1940shere and here.

The sun is a constant source of energy.

The sun’s radiation varies over many time scales, from short (11 year sunspot cycle, 20-27 year magnetic field) to medium (106- and 216 year cycles) to long (tens of thousands of years). Northern hemisphere temperature variations over the last 200 years closely match estimated solar intensity, as one would expect.  (George Taylor, “Science Wake Up Call: There is More Hype Than Truth,” National Association of Manufacturers, May 2004)

Glaciers all over the world are shrinking because of global warming.

Braithwaite in 2002 in a paper “Glacier mass balance” in the Journal Progress in Physical Geography reveals “there are several regions with highly negative mass balances in agreement with a public perception of ‘the glaciers are melting,’ but there are also regions with positive balances.” Within Europe, for example, he notes that “Alpine glaciers are generally shrinking, Scandinavian glaciers are growing, and glaciers in the Caucasus are close to equilibrium for 1980-95.” And when results for the whole world are combined for this most recent period of time, Braithwaite notes “there is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years.”

Dr. Tim Patterson writes about Canadian glaciers that researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of Western Ontario have shown that glaciers in the Lake Louise area and at the Athabaska Icefields have receded far above their present limits in the past. We should consider the conditions that cause glaciers to advance and retreat. Obviously, climate warming will cause melt-back of the toe of a glacier (retreat). The cause for advance is primarily increased snowfall at the top of a glacier (the accretion zone). The pressure of the new glacial ice at the top of the glacier will cause the glacier to start flowing downhill more rapidly than the toe is melting; hence, the advance. Cooler temperatures without the increase in snowfall will probably not halt the retreat. It is possible to have a retreat with cool temperatures and low precipitation, and it is possible to have an advance with warm temperatures and heavy snowfall. It has been recorded in the literature that waxing and waning of glaciers all over the world is a common occurrence and that any reference to this being an abnormal thing, due to Global Warming depends on selectively gathered “evidence”. This has been remarkably well illustrated in New Zealand in 2004 with the rapid advance of glaciers in the South Island with the only climatic change being very heavy precipitation.

Gore claims that sea level rise could drown the Pacific islands, Florida, major cities the world over, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

Sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past 8,000 years.  The IPCC notes that “No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected.” Unless there is another Little Ice Age, they will continue rising at roughly this rate for centuries to come. As to open water in the Arctic, it happens every year in late summer—following weeks in the 40s and 50s. 

It’s getting hot in here… In 2003 the hottest European summer on record caused more than 20,000 deaths.  Extreme heat waves also caused more than 1500 deaths in India.

Many of the deaths reported in 2003 were not from the heat. J.R. Stedman, and air quality scientist, reported that 21-38% of the total excess deaths in the United Kingdom claimed to be due to high temperatures were actually the result of high levels of the pollutants ozone and PM10.  P.H. Fischer determined that 33-50% of the deaths attributed to the same heat wave in the Netherlands were caused by the same two air pollutants.

In the Czech Republic, J. Kysely and R. Huth found that a large portion of the mortality increase that is often attributed to heat waves is actually due to a harvesting effect, which “can be estimated to account for about 50% of the total number of victims.” In other words, as they put it, “people who would have died in the short term even in the absence of oppressive weather conditions made up about half of the total number of deaths.”

The real killer in Europe is not heat but cold. According to the UK Department of Health, average winter excess mortality in a normal year in the UK alone is approximately 35,000. There is strong scientific evidence that normal cold temperatures kill far more people than summer heat waves, even severe ones, almost everywhere in the world. And since the primary effect of global warming is expected to be an increase in the coldest winter temperatures, moderate global warming may actually SAVE lives.  (George Taylor, “Science Wake Up Call: There is More Hype Than Truth,” National Association of Manufacturers, May 2004)

Gore lists ways the United States could reduce emissions of greenhouse gases back to the levels of 1970. 

Even if the US reduced greenhouse gas emissions to zero it would have no immediate impact on climate.  China, India and many other countries are significantly increasing their emission levels, and global concentrations of CO2 may double this century.  Even if the Kyoto Protocol could be fully implemented the globe would be spared no more than a few hundredths of a degree of warming. 

The number of category 4 and 5 storms has greatly increased over the past 35 years, along with ocean temperature.  Warmer water in the oceans pumps more energy into tropical storms, making them more intense and potentially more destructive.

The 1940s were rather busy, the 70s the quietest, and the 1990s pretty close to the long-term average. A simple linear fit suggests a decrease over time. This is a result echoed by Easterling, et al (2000), who said, “the number of intense and landfalling Atlantic hurricanes has declined.” In the Gulf of Mexico there is “no sign of an increase in hurricane frequency or intensity,” according to Bove, et al (1998). For the North Atlantic as a whole, according to the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization, “Reliable data ... since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased.”

Granted, there has been an upswing in the Atlantic since 1995, and since 2004, the bumper crop of storms has struck Florida in numbers and intensities seldom occurring before. A sign of things to come, especially in a warmer world? Not according to Bill Gray’s Tropical Forecast group at Colorado State University. Gray, who has developed successful methods for predicting hurricane activity, said, “Various groups and individuals have suggested that the recent large upswing in Atlantic hurricane activity (since 1995) may be in some way related to the effects of increased man-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). There is no reasonable scientific way that such an interpretation of this recent upward shift in Atlantic hurricane activity can be made.”

And there is no reason to expect increases in hurricanes due to greenhouse warming. Climate models, for all their problems, are unanimous in at least one respect: they predict that most of the future warming will be in high latitudes, in the polar regions. This will reduce the north-south temperature gradient and make poleward transfer of heat less vigorous—a task in which tropical storms play a major role. All other things being equal, a warmer world should have fewer, not more, hurricanes.

Zhang, et al (2000) examined storm activity along the US East Coast over the twentieth century. After stating, “it has been speculated that future global warming will change the frequency and severity of tropical and extratropical storms,” the authors used historical data in an attempt to help predict future trends. Using a variety of indices, including storm surge water levels, the authors found “no significant trend in storm activity during this century along the East Coast.” The real problem along the coastline, they say, is not changing climate but changing land use, as more and more development occurs along the shorelines, creating greater susceptibility to storm damage.

Gulev, et al (2000) employed NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data since 1958 to study the occurrence of winter storms over the northern hemisphere. They found a statistically significant (at the 95% level) decline of 1.2 cyclones per year for the period, during which temperatures reportedly rose in much of the hemisphere. 

Warmer temperatures could also increase the probability of drought. Greater evaporation, particularly during summer and fall, could exacerbate drought conditions and increase the risk of wildfires.

Kunkel et al. (1999) concluded, they saw “no apparent trend in climatic drought frequency” and “no evidence of changes in the frequency of intense heat or cold.” Climate change is not a major factor because “trends in most related weather and climate extremes do not show comparable increases with time.”

More frequent and more intensive heat waves could result in more heat-related deaths. These conditions could also aggravate local air quality problems, already afflicting more than 80 million Americans. Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases as well.

Malaria, yellow and dengue fever are related to the absence of vaccines, pesticides, screens and other health care measures, not to temperatures, tropical disease expert Dr. Paul Reiter points out. Wisconsin had malaria outbreaks in the 1880s; yellow fever claimed 19,000 lives in Memphis in 1878; and 2,000 people got dengue fever in one Mexican border town in 1995, while Texas reported only seven cases. 

Is global warming really impacting polar bears?

In An Inconvenient Truth, the polar bear drowning on a sole melting piece of ice moved a lot of people and public and political pressure encouraged the US Fish and Wildlife Service to add polar bears as “threatened” animals to the endangered species list.

In 2002, the US Geological Survey in the Arctic Refuge Coastal plain reported the polar bear population was near historic highs. Biologist Mitchell Taylor of the Arctic community of Nunavit who tracks 13 of those colonies, says 11 are stable or thriving with populations that have increased 25%.

There are approximately 19 worldwide polar bear populations, the Fish and Wildlife action was based solely on reviewing data for only one of those populations in western Hudson Bay which has declined by 259 bears in last 17 years. The decline is due to hunting to prevent overpopulation and ironically the Canadian government is looking to increase the quota.  (US Geological Survey in Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain 2002, and Dr. Mitchell Taylor, Polar Bear Biologist, Department of Environment, Government of Nunavut , Igloolik , Nunavut , Canada “Last Stand of our wild polar bears” 5/1/06)


The CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis claims that as the world warms in response to the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content, many species of plants and animals will not be able to migrate either poleward in latitude or upward in elevation fast enough to avoid extinction as they try to escape the stress imposed by the rising temperature. With respect to plants, however, we have shown that as long as the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration rises in tandem with its temperature, most of them will not “feel the heat,” as their physiology will change in ways that make them better adapted to warmer conditions. Hence, although earth’s plants will likely spread poleward and upward at the cold-limited boundaries of their ranges in response to a warming-induced opportunity to do so, their heat-limited boundaries will probably remain pretty much as they are now or shift only slightly.

Consequently, in a world of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration, the ranges of most of earth’s plants will likely expand if the planet continues to warm, making plant extinctions even less likely than they are currently.

Animals should react much the same way. In response to concurrent increases in atmospheric temperature and CO2 concentration, they will likely migrate poleward and upward, where cold temperatures prevented them from going in the past, as they follow earth’s plants.  Also as with earth’s plants, the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges should in many cases be little affected, as has been observed in several of the real-world studies that have been wrongly cited as providing evidence for impending species extinctions, or their entire ranges may simply shift with the rising temperature, as has been observed in many real-world studies of marine ecosystems.

To summarize, both theory and observation paint the same picture. A goodly portion of earth’s plants and animals should actually expand their ranges and gain a stronger foothold on the planet as the atmosphere’s temperature and CO2 concentration continue to rise. If the air’s CO2 content were suddenly to stop increasing, however, the biosphere could find itself facing a significant challenge, as the world’s plants would cease acquiring the extra physiological protection against heat stress that is afforded them by rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Consequently, the end result of curtailing anthropogenic CO2 emissions might well be just the opposite of what many people are hoping to accomplish by encouraging that policy, i.e., many species might actually be driven to extinction, rather than being saved from such a fate.

Global Warming Quiz #1

How much do you know about Global Warming?  Take this test and find out. These 10 questions are not easy - BUT - The answers are the scientific and provable facts Global Warming Quiz

Global Warming Quiz #2

How did you do with first quiz. Try this one from Dr. Richard Keen.  Global Warming Quiz

Q&A Global Warming Primer

This is a very useful Q&A Primer on Global Warming by Dr. Ed Blick, a former USAF forecaster and University of Oklahoma Professor Global Warming Primer