[Fwd: [Fwd: Minnesota may lose her forests?]]

Larry stamm larryst at vis.bc.ca
Wed Jan 20 13:16:22 EST 1999

On 19 Jan 1999 23:01:28 GMT, kmorrisd at aol.com (KMorrisD) wrote:

>Joseph Zorzin <redoak at forestmeister.com> wrote:
>>I'm not expert on this subject, but I'd bet a quarter that if you took a
>>census of all the climatologists- that the vast  majority would say that
>>C02 is indeed a greenhouse gas, and that indeed the level of C02 in the
>>atmosphere is going up because we're putting it there and that indeed it
>>will at some point be a serious problem. I doubt that any reputable
>>climatologist will disagree. The question isn't IF, but WHEN.

I think ALL climatologists would agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas,
and  furthermore, that ALL would agree that its heat trapping
capabilities pale in comparison with the major greenhouse gases such
as H2O and methane.  The question is whether (or how much) a slight
increase in  atmospheric CO2 will lead to a increase in the
concentrations of atmospheric H2O and methane.

Remember, 25 years ago there was serious concern that the climate
might be drastically cooling.

>I read somewhere that this extra CO2 is like a very SMALL engine pushing a very
>LARGE flywheel.  So it takes some time for the flywheel to get going.  And once
>it's going, it will keep going for a long time regardless of whether or not
>that small engine is still pushing it.
>Maybe the flywheel is the world's oceans.  They're very deep, so it takes them
>a long time to heat up.  But once they do, they force all kinds of climate
The CO2 dissolved in the oceans is about 50 times the amount in the
atmosphere.  There is enough heat stored in the oceans to keep them
from freezing for about 10 years, even if the sun went out today.  So
yes, the oceans are a very huge flywheel.  

The amount of CO2 locked up in carbonate rocks, such as limestone, is
several thousand times that dissolved in the oceans.

The gaseous exchanges between the oceans and the atmosphere, and
between limestone and the atmosphere, is *very* poorly understood
presently, and this is one of the huge fudge factors incorporated into
the climate models.  These models currently are over predicting the
rise of atmospheric CO2 and temperature by a substantial factor.  In
other words, a lot of the CO2 that is being put into the atmosphere is
"disappearing" by unknown mechanisms.

Science has a very poor track record at predicting the behaviour of
complex non-linear systems, such as the atmosphere (or forests, for
that matter).  Knowing this, to suggest that Minnesota's forests may
disappear because of global warming caused by human activity has about
as much scientific validity as predictions about the Second Coming,
IMO.  Both are within in the realm of possibility, but not within the
realm of predictability.

This is not to say global warming is not happening, or that human
activity has no part in it, but just to say that we don't know yet,
and we for sure can't make reliable predictions about the future
climate now.

There is more scientific rationale for ,say, reducing reliance on
automobiles because of the psychological stresses caused by people
spending so much time behind the wheel, than because of the damage
done to the future climate from burning gasoline.  We don't need to
bring in global warming to justify changes in our industrial habits;
there are more than enough immediate reasons already discernible.

Larry Stamm

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