climate cycles

A Modest Proposal: Triple Your Carbon Footprint

Triple your carbon footprint. Does that sound crazy? Read on. By some estimates, our increasing use of fossil fuels will raise atmospheric carbon dioxide to about 1,000ppm (versus about 390ppm currently) by the end of this century. Climate alarmists and governments have decreed that this is undesirable and even dangerous because it might lead to uncontrolled global warming, so they say. They propose various schemes to reduce our carbon footprint. I contend that more carbon dioxide will not significantly affect climate change, and that government policy to curb emissions is exactly the opposite of what we should do. Why? Because we need to increase food production for our increasing population, and to preserve habitat for wildlife. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide will help do both.

Human population is about 6 billion and is projected to rise to 11 billion by the end of the century. How are we going to feed all those people? There are several methods to increase food production. One is to increase the area of cultivated land, but that would displace wildlife, and we would have to divert more water to raise the crops. Currently, agriculture uses about 75% of all freshwater resources. Other methods of increasing production include increasing crop yield per unit land area, increasing crop yield per unit of fertilizer applied, and increasing crop yield per unit of water used. But, for many crops we are reaching the genetic limit of yield per acre. Use of ever increasing amounts of fertilizer has other undesirable consequences.

The answer to all these problems is to let atmospheric carbon dioxide rise, because carbon dioxide is plant food. There are many studies which show that doubling of the air’s carbon dioxide concentration increases the productivity of earth’s herbaceous plants by 30- to 50% , and of woody plants by 50- to 80% or more. These studies also show that more carbon dioxide increases plants’ efficiency in use of nutrients and water.

But what about global warming? The fact is, there is no physical evidence which shows that carbon dioxide has a significant effect on global temperature, only computer modeling speculations. For background, see my articles: Your Carbon Footprint Doesn’t Matter, A Basic Error in Climate Models, and Natural Climate Cycles. If you are concerned about the potential for human diseases in a warming world, see these articles.

In fact, the “normal” temperature for the planet is about 18 F higher than now. By “normal,” I mean the temperature which has existed for most of the time. And, for most of the time, atmospheric carbon dioxide has been more than 1,000ppm; see the reconstruction based on geologic evidence below.

Phanerozic temp

Both temperature and carbon dioxide concentration are lower than “normal” now because the planet is in an ice age. (See the distinction between Ice ages and glacial epochs here .)

Concerns about runaway global warming and “tipping points” are unfounded. If run-away warming were possible, it would have already happened, especially since carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been more than ten times the current level for most of Earth’s history.

Run-away warming cannot happen on this planet because Earth is a water world. Warming increases evaporation. Water vapor, and its latent heat, is carried aloft by convection. Heat is lost to space when the water vapor condenses. The condensation also produces clouds which reflect incoming solar radiation. That is Earth’s negative feedback mechanism to prevent run-away warming, and it has been regulating Earth’s temperature for about 4.5 billion years.

To preserve nature and feed humanity, we must let carbon dioxide levels rise. Help it rise back to “normal” concentrations faster by tripling your carbon footprint, or at least discouraging the futile government schemes to reduce emissions.

If you are one who believes that carbon dioxide actually does have a significant effect on global temperature (please cite some evidence), then you should join the program anyway to help forestall onset of the next glacial epoch which would really impact food production.

After all, Al Gore, the charlatan of carbon, has recently increased his already enormous carbon footprint with the purchase of a mansion in California.


Research Review 3 Climate cycles and a Mammoth Mystery

What caused the extinction of Mammoths and other megafauna12,000 years ago? How is the position of the earth relative to the sun related to the glacial-interglacial cycles of our current ice age? These questions are explored by two research papers, one from the University of Arizona, the other from the University of California – Santa Barbara.

First up is the story from Santa Barbara.

The paper: “Links between eccentricity forcing and the 100,000-year glacial cycle” by geologist Lorraine E. Lisiecki examines the timing of glacial cycles relative to the position of the earth and the sun, published April 4 in Nature, Geoscience online (available only with a subscription). (Note: the press release from UCSB had some rather questionable statements, so I emailed Ms. Lisiecki and she kindly sent me the entire paper.)

Some background: The earth’s orbit around the sun varies from nearly circular to moderately elliptical on a cycle of 100,000 years. The tilt of the earth’s axis relative to the plane of the solar system (obliquity) varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees and back again on a cycle to about 41,000 years. This tilt produces the variation in seasons. (Currently the Earth is tilted at 23.44 degrees from its orbital plane.) The third major variation, precession, is the direction of the axis of rotation relative to the “fixed” stars. This is like the wobble of a gyroscope. This cycle is 21,000 to 26,000 years. All of these cycles impact the amount of solar radiation impinging on the planet.

The important point about Ms. Lisiecki’s research is that she found hard evidence linking these cycles to global temperature. Lisiecki examined sea sediment cores, representing a time frame of 5 million years, from 57 locations throughout the world. The temperature proxy used was the variation of the oxygen-18 isotope gleaned from calcite in foraminifera fossils. This is a common proxy used in investigation of past temperature. (Foraminifera are rice-grain-sized, one-celled animals that have a calcium carbonate shell. They were first recognized from Cambrian-aged rocks, 550 million year ago, and many species still exist today.) In the first part of our current ice age, the glacial-interglacial cycle was 41,000 years. But 800,000 years ago that cycle changed to 100,000 years. Lisiecki found statistically significant correlations between the proxy temperature data and the timing of eccentricity and obliquity cycles. The question remains about why and how the longer cycle overcame the shorter cycle and it points out that there is a natural instability in climate during ice ages. Lisiecki proposes that “internally driven climate feedbacks” are the source of the change to a 100,000-year glacial. She does not expand on what those feedbacks are.

Now, on to the mammoths.

At the end of the last glacial epoch about 14,000 years ago, North America, and other places sported megafauna. In Arizona there were three species of mammoths, mastodons, camels, horses, large bears, large saber-toothed cats, and a critter called the glyptodont, essentially a volkwagen-sized armadillo. There were also people hunting all these animals, people of the Clovis culture. And they all disappeared between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. Many theories abound as to why. It is speculated that the Clovis people hunted mammoths to extinction, or they brought disease which decimated the populations. Perhaps it was the climate change of the new interglacial period than changed things too much.


Following the end of glacial conditions, the climate warmed to about what it is now. But there was a cold snap, a period called the Younger Dryas. About 12,900 years ago temperatures plunged within a few decades to near glacial conditions again. That cold snap lasted about 1,000 years, followed by abrupt warming. The beginning of the Younger Dryas is marked, in some places, by a thin layer of soot. There are remains of megafauna and Clovis people below that layer, but none above it. It is speculated that a comet exploded over North America and caused continent-wide fires. The resulting climate change caused the demise of the megafauna.

Research from the University takes exception to the comet theory. The paper: “The Murray Springs Clovis site, Pleistocene extinction, and the question of extraterrestrial impact” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 2, vol. 107 no. 9.

“Some of the evidence for the recent hypothesis of an extraterrestrial impact that caused late Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions was based upon samples collected at Murray Springs, a Clovis archaeological site in southeastern Arizona.” The researchers examined the black sooty mat and also some magnetic microspherules which can have their origin on earth as well as in comets. The researchers did not find any iridium or radiation anomalies that are commonly associated with comets (but iridium can originate from volcanoes as well).

The UofA researchers say the black mat is the result of an algal bloom from moist soil, not soot from a fire. They explain the magnetic spherules as originating “in exhaust from vehicles and power plants” that were washed into the Murray Springs site. They found sooty material only at the campsites and say it was the result of camp fires. Nanodiamonds are found in the sooty layer also. The UofA researchers say, “A common ingredient of cosmic dust, nanodiamonds are constantly raining down onto the earth’s surface, rendering them unsuitable as unequivocal evidence of an extraterrestrial impact.”

In the end, however, the UofA researchers cannot rule out a cosmic event, but they say it is very unlikely. You can read the press release here:

Other research shows that decline of megafauna began before the Younger Dryas. So, what killed the mammoths? There is much speculation, but we still don’t know the reason for sure.

The mammoth mystery continues to intrigue.

Natural Climate Cycles

Twentieth Century warming was nothing unusual. Climate is cyclic, and there are cycles within cycles. The graph below, based on reconstruction from the geologic record, shows that there have been several cycles of warming and cooling since the end of the last glacial epoch. The temperature during the Holocene Climate Optimum was 3ºF to 10ºF warmer than today in many areas.


Evidence for these cycles is found in the ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, in fossil pollen records, in cores of sediments taken beneath lakes and the ocean, in the distribution of glacial deposits, in the analysis of stalagmites in caves, and in the historic record. These records also show that the cycles were global events.

It is still unclear why these cycles occur at the intervals they do. Some researchers say it’s a combination of solar cycles which periodically reinforce each other both positively and negatively.

For most of the history of this planet, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were more than 10 times the current level. For most of the last 250 million years carbon dioxide levels were more than three times the current level.

Climate alarmist claims that our carbon dioxide emissions could trigger runaway global warming is pure nonsense. It if could happen, it would have happened already. Run-away warming cannot happen on this planet because Earth is a water world. Warming increases evaporation. Water vapor, and its latent heat, is carried aloft by convection. Heat is lost to space when the water vapor condenses. The condensation also produces clouds which reflect incoming solar radiation. That is Earth’s negative feedback mechanism to prevent run-away warming.


Dansgaard, W. , et al., 1969, One Thousand Centuries of Climatic Record from Camp Century on the Greenland Ice Sheet, Science 17 Vol. 166. no. 3903.

Friis-Christensen, E. And Lassen, K., 1999, Length of Solar Cycle: An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate, Science 254.

Hu, F.S. et al., 2003, cyclic Variation and Solar Forcing of Holocene Climate in the Alaskan Subarctic, Science 301.

Niggerman, S., et al., 2003, A Paleoclimate Record of the last 17,000 Years in Stalagmites from the B7 Cave, Sauerland, Germany, Quaternary Science Reviews 22.

Pisias, N.G. et al., 1973, Spectral analysis of Late Pleistocene-Holocene Sediments, Quaternary Research, March 1973.

Schönwiese, Christian, 1995, Klimaänderungenaten, Analysen, Prognosen.-224 S.ISBN: 978-3-540-59096-5.

Viau, A.E. et al., 2002, Widespread Evidence of 1,500-yr Climate Variability in North America during the Past 14,000 Years, Geology 30.