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              Lesson 3 Graphs

It is often reported that the temperature of the earth is higher the past 20 years than it has ever been in history. This is simply not true, nor has it ever been. Hundreds of research studies using ice cores, pollen sedimentation, tree rings, etc. have shown that there were dozens of periods in the past 11,000 years (generally called the Holocene period) that earth's temperature was significantly warmer than it is today. Earth's temperature was very much warmer at least four times during the current interglacial period. The polar bears did just fine during those warmer periods.

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Although Al Gore's video, The Inconvenient Truth has been show in almost every middle and high school in America, it is very biased and error ridden. The former Science Advisor to Prime Minister Thatcher was so alarmed at the errors, biases and exaggerations that he sued the British government to keep it from being shown in England. After the British High Court reviewed all the evidence, they ruled against Gore outlining 9 serious errors (there are over 30 errors totally). The Inconvenient Truth cannot be shown in public schools today without a disclaimer that is a political film with numerous scientific errors. To read the court's decision in these articles click here, here and here.

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One of the most exaggerated claims made in The Inconvenient Truth is that if half of Antarctica's and half of Greenland's icecaps were to melt, sea levels would rise twenty feet or more, flooding coastal cities and islands. The images used in the video are very graphic and alarming. While Gore's claim is technically more or less correct,  the message he gives that it could happen in the next few decades is completely false. First, as noted above, earth has experience much warmer temperatures in the past and neither icecap melted. It would take thousands of years at these temperatures for that to happen. Second, even the highly political and biased reports from the IPCC say that at the very most, ocean levels might rise 23 inches in the next 100 years, and only then if warming continued to increase at the rates experienced in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Third, we are likely entering a cooling period, so the issue is no longer relevant. In fact, Greenland's icecap is not losing ice mass, and the rise in ocean levels has slowed significantly.

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Although global warming models show that both polar regions should warming with CO2-caused global warming, the various stations maintained in Antarctica show Antarctica to be cooling over the past two decades. One research paper in 2008 allegedly showing Antarctica to be warming is being accepted with skepticism by the scientific community, even by those who still maintain that global warming is caused by human activity. The main criticism centers on the use of highly questionable equations to fill in temperature data between the widely scattered weather stations in Antarctica. It appears to many to be a repeat of the infamous hockey stick curve fiasco of the early 2000s.

The only place Antarctica has shown true warming is along Western Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula. This is where pictures of massive ice chucks breaking off of Antarctica come from that are shown on the news every couple of years. Research published in 2007-2008 found that this warming is NOT do to global warming, but to volcanic activity under the ocean and ice flows.

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While the correlation between atmospheric increases in CO2 and earth's temperatures is poor (r2=0.44), it is much better for solar irradiance and solar activity (r2=>70 -- The higher the rs value the greater the correlation). It has long been known that solar irradiance by itself does not provide enough energy to cause the warming on earth experienced in the twentieth century. However, when combined with the type of solar irradiance that is emitted during high periods of solar activity every 11 and 22 years (the solar cycle), there is a poorly understood, but good correlation. Solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other solar activity reach a maximum during the peak of each solar cycle and somehow influence ocean temperatures and therefore climate. One of the leading theories on this interaction is the interaction between solar activity and incoming cosmic radiation on cloud formation, explained below.

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Research done primarily at the Danish National Space Center has show there is a very high correlation between incoming solar radiation and cloud formation. Cosmic radiation originates from exploding super novae. When the cosmic radiation enter the earth's atmosphere, they excite water vapor molecules, causing them to clump together (condense) into tiny water droplets which form low elevation clouds. These clouds then reflect the solar radiation back into space instead of warming the earth. This causes the earth to cool.  When the sun becomes more active more solar flares, coronal mass ejections and other solar activity dramatically increase the solar winds which push back cosmic radiation thereby preventing the cosmic radiation from reaching the earth's atmosphere and creating more clouds. Since there is less cloud formation, more solar radiation reaches the earth's surface and the earth warms. It is estimated that this phenomenon can account for 85 percent of the warming that occurred in the twentieth century.

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