Geeking out on Global Warming with Rick DiMaio

Mike Nowak gets a kick out of it. Each week on his gardening and environment radio program “The Mike Nowak Show,” Sundays from 9-11am on Que4 Radio in Chicago, Mike chats with Meteorologist Rick DiMaio for weather; a critical element to gardeners. Rick’s forecasts and insight remains one of the highlight of my week. He doesn’t know it, but Rick and I have bumped into one another several times over the last 20 or so years. I was friends with several FOX anchors and reporters back in the mid-Nineties, and first met him at a small surprise birthday party for the legendary crime reporter, John Drummond. I counted Rick as a resource in an international logistics position with a major airline. Rick’s forecasts were part of the airline’s morning briefings.

This past Sunday something Rick said on the show sparked something I have been tacitly researching for some time. As a data person, I rely on graphs and statistical data in scrutinizing evidence both for and against Anthropogenic, or man made, Global Climate Change. While the evidence appears overwhelming persuasive in favor of man made warming, I always leave the door open.

I first began researching the question while with a German logistics firm, Jettainer. after half of our American team was stuck in Europe following the April 2010 eruption of an Iceland volcano severely disrupted air travel for nearly two weeks. The focus of that was to better understand processes driving climate variability. Historically the two greatest components affecting the climate have been the sun, or solar cycle, and volcanism. Recently researching a Belgian ancestor who lived during the Reformation and Dutch wars for Independence, I looked into causes for the so-called mini-ice age, and the likely culprit of that decades long and devastating cold period; a volcano eruption.

Line graph showing historical sunspot number count, Maunder and Dalton minima, and the Modern Maximum

Fast forward four centuries to the Industrial Era and the unprecedented proliferation of industry spewing ever more amounts of carbon and particulates into the air. Coal, then gas and oil all helped to power the 20th Century, through two catastrophic World Wars, a Cold War, wars for oil and  a half century or more of virtually unregulated, unremitting carbon ingestion into the atmosphere. I am not really concerned so much with the global warming deniers as I am the people who buy their nonsense and false science. At the heart of all that is money, and it doesn’t make any sense to simply denounce environmentalists as being anti-capitalism or anti-business. If that was the case none of them would use social media or smartphones or buy electric cars. Instead we are seeing the monopoly of gas and oil and coal attempting to shut out alternatives. Sort of like McDonalds, BurgerKing and KFC going to war against Subway.

But I digress, and my conversation with Rick DiMaio Sunday was about drivers. First is the sun, a small yellow G2 class star. It is the primary driver of our planet’s weather, and light, or radiation, solar storms and sun spots all can affect the weather, but only to a point. Despite the so-called 11 year cycles(They don’t precisely run in 11 year cycles, more loose patterns than anything)  that many climate change deniers refer to, our sun is relatively stable. We have good records on this going back many thousands of years, from many and varied pieces of evidence. Sunspots, which seem to be somewhat cyclical were noted as lower than normal in the first two decades of the 19th Century a period consistent with a sudden cool down. However, There is evidence that a volcanic eruption also contributed to that sudden cool down.

In fact, sun spot activity reached a peak around 1950 and has declined or at least settled to the same activity observed since 1900. That is, if the sun is to blame, consistent with the 19th century cool down then we should see  a precipitous rise consistent with observed climate change here on Earth, but we don’t. That leaves volcanoes, the one catastrophic event which has the capacity for sudden and prolonged climate change. In a single powerful eruption a volcano can throw immense amounts of particulates into the stratosphere, blocking sunlight and plummeting global or hemispheric temps, as my 16th century ancestor and physician, Pascasius Turcq endured during the so-called Little Ice Age.

And we see that with eruptions throughout the 20th century. But we also see something else interesting. Despite great eruptions, like Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, throwing massive amounts of debris into the atmosphere the overall mean warming of the planet is only temporarily slowed or paused but then continues unabated in its climb towards climate catastrophe.

It is about emissions and carbon and dirty energy polluting and effecting the planet and our climate. Those supposed natural variability’s and  patterns that man-made climate deniers would have us believe are driving unarguable change simply are not to blame, except perhaps anecdotally.

 

The patterns are striking when we overlay climate change with emissions and world population. We find that all of them seem to be related. In science, as in statistics and in business as well, that is called correlation. notice that I stopped short of causal, because that wouldn’t be scientific. But I still think the evidence is clear enough, at the very least, for concern over the issue.

Rush Limaugh and others famously point to the arrogant notion of environmentalists and Progressives on this issue. They assert that the planet is simply far to big for little old us to do any real damage. They ignore that the Earth is a finite system. They also ignore that the tumult of the Second World War, with whole cities burning across the globe, and unprecedented industrial output for war efforts globally created a massive spike in emissions and temperature, which paused briefly at the end of the war and into the early 1950s before climbing to meet the needs of  an ever increasing global population.

I knew the answer to that during a high school Chemistry class experiment to make wine from grape juice long before the debate on global warming started. That is, by introducing a very small population of microscopic bacteria into a sweet and very large environment, like a gallon of grape juice, can have dramatic ramifications. The bacteria, devouring the sugars undergo a massive population explosion. They give off waste products of CO2 and alcohol, in essence polluting their environment to such an extent that the population suffers a quick and massive die-off. So yes, Rush, small organisms can destroy their finite environment and render it unlivable.

The evidence is there, if only one wishes to see it. Those who argue against that evidence can have only one of Four agendas. First, they agree with the evidence and are challenging it on scientific grounds. Two, they are being paid to be shills for the polluters. Three, they are  part of the population without access to real scientific and peer reviewed information, or Four, they’re idiots.

 

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