vostok4The global warming debate is one of the biggest topics of the last few years. It makes it’s way into the political, financial, environmental, entertainment and social arena. While it appears as though the verdict is in and we are in fact responsible for the recent warming, we must take the time to really look at all the possibilities here.

Note: Please read the whole thing through before drawing conclusions.

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What will be presented in this article is an in depth look at data from research done at the Vostok station in the Antarctic. Hardly new data, it still remains more of a quiet topic as it without a doubt draws question to how big our role is on global warming. Don’t confuse this with environmental degradation, it is more than clear that as humans we are completely destroying our environment and we need to stop, but it’s important to know the full details about what we’re doing.

The research was done over many years by a group of Russian and French scientists. Why it is important to know who did this research is because we can better remove the potential bias due to financial or political gain. Before we jump into the data, I want to make it clear that this is not false data, made up or hypothetical, it is very real. One final note, when it comes to the treatment of our environment I will be the first to say that I do not agree with the use of harsh chemicals, fossil fuels, clear cutting, dumping, toxic waste disposal, etc. I know that what we are doing to our environment is a serious issue, but is very overlooked due to the attention and distraction global warming creates. We need to change our ways, but global warming is not the biggest issue.

Vostok Data
The Vostok ice core sample was obtained by drilling down into the ice above Lake Vostok to a depth of 3623m. The graph built from the Vostok ice core data shows us the relationship between CO2 in the atmosphere and global temperature. Contrary to current belief today, the Vostok data shows us that CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases by about 800 years. This means that CO2 is not the cause of the increased temperatures, although it might potentially play a small role. This cannot be confirmed at this time however. The Vostok graph also shows us the cyclical pattern that occurs with warming and cooling as well as the increase in CO2 levels. The graph below indicates the approximate 110,000 year cycles that took place over the past 420,000 years, in which there is a clear relationship between higher temperatures and increased CO2.


Green line indicates CO2. Blue line indicates temperature. Red line indicates dust.

From this data we may question why the fall of CO2 after that fall in temperature? The reason is that cold water is capable of retaining more CO2 than warm water. We see this if we were to leave fizzy beverages out in warm weather, it would lose its carbonation quickly. In nature terms, when the temperatures are cooler, the ocean water is able to hold much more CO2. As the temperature warms, CO2 is released into the atmosphere, hence the increase in CO2 levels during warmer periods in time.

What is very important to take from this data is that the rise and fall of global temperatures and the rise and fall of CO2 emissions is a completely natural cycle that the planet has gone through on many occasions. We can see that all increases and decreases correlate directly with the Ice Age minimus and maximus as shown in the graphs. This process has been happening for the past 420,000 years according to the data collected at Vostok. Also note the fact that the temperatures of today and the CO2 emissions of today are relative to previous peaks that occurred in the past. It is fair to say that 150 years ago we did not have the same level of industry and CO2 emissions as we do today, never mind 100,000 or 200,000 years ago. This tells us that regardless of the CO2 emissions we have sent into the atmosphere, it is not adding a great deal nor is it causing the warming.

It is believed that there is about 800 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere and human activities release about another 27 billion tonnes per year, or 3% of the total. What is important to note is that CO2 in the air dissolves into the oceans and there is a lot more in the oceans than there is in the atmosphere. CO2 in the oceans is slowly gathered by limestone, chalk and other rocks. More than 100 times the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is locked up in these stones (The White Cliffs of Dover are largely responsible for sequestering CO2). How much CO2 that goes to the ocean versus into the atmosphere is not understood at this point. So regardless of the 3% of total emissions that humanity creates, it is very likely that a large portion of it doesn’t even make it to the atmosphere. Even if one were to assume that man is contributing large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, it will dissolve in the sea and then turn to limestone without any help from us. CO2 contributes 9% of the greenhouse effect. Industry currently pumps 3% more CO2 into the atmosphere each year, which is only responsible for a total of .27% of the greenhouse effect. The reality this creates is that if we were to cease all transport and industry right now, it is very unrealistic to assume that it would have any impact on global warming. Since this cannot be stated as fact, we can leave this point open to possibility. However it is important to note that the claims made by major pushers of global warming greatly rely on the assumption that humanity’s small addition to the CO2 levels is what is going to push warming beyond a point of return. As you can see from the previous data, this assumption is not backed nor sound.

The graph below shows the sources of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

If we look to roughly 325,000 years ago, based on the Vostok data above, we see that Earth was at the peak of a warm interglacial period.  At that time, global temperature and CO2 levels were higher than they are today. Currently, we are again at the peak and near end of a warm interglacial. Based on the cycle, it would suggest that we are heading into another Ice Age period of cooling where global temperatures will drop and ice will again form heavily at the poles.

The fact of the matter is, while the world is focused on anthropogenic global warming, warming induced by humans, what could potentially be a more serious and real matter is that of the coming ice age as the cycle suggests. 420,000 years of data has proven to us that we are not going to see a constant warming of the planet and that we are near the very end of a warming cycle -yet we seem stuck in the idea that we are about to cease our existence due to global warming. At this point, the data should speak for itself and completely nullify any belief that global warming is induced by humans, and that CO2 is the cause. We see very clearly that CO2 lags the temperature increases and has done so many times.

A Few Added Key Points

1. Four times in the period, (ie, roughly every 100,000 years) the temperature has quickly shot up to 2°C – 3°C above today’s and then slowly slipped back to about 8°C below today’s temperature. It looks as though the Earth’s non-linear climate system has two stable states and flops rhythmically from one to the other.

2. We are currently at the top of a cycle and an ice-age seems to be in our near future. It is important to note that comparing today’s position with the 4 previous peaks, the temperature should have reached 2°C or more some 10,000 years ago, but it hasn’t. If anything, the world is now somewhat colder than what we might have expected.

3. CO2 and temperature correlate to each other very well based on the data well. When temperature goes up, so does CO2. When temperature drops, so does CO2. CO2 increases lag temperature increases by 800-1000 years.
4. We normally think that causes come first and consequences come after. Hence the belief that CO2 creates the temperature increase. Looking over long periods in this data, it is temperature that comes first and by a thousand years or so (except for a short period about 340,000 years ago). Al Gore seems to overlook this important detail in his film.
5. Global Warming is an area of science where experiments are very hard to perform, but nature has given us 4 repetitions to show us what we might expect. The Vostok core clearly indicates that when the temperature reaches 2°C a mechanism kicks in which sets the temperature falling again and initiates an ice-age. Since this mechanism has repeatedly worked well after 100,000 years of disuse, it seems to be an expected cycle.
6. We know that the sun and its increased/ prolonged radiation over the past years is a very big driving force of global wamring right now. We also know that when heated, greenhouse gases become lighter and ascend into the atmosphere only to give absorbed heat away. We don’t know what happens next and science has not substantiated this. I do recognize the importance of addressing the possibility of global warming being caused by humans. But the fact is, we do not know that CO2 causes it. We do not know if the negligible amounts of CO2 we create can even have an impact on warming either. These are all assumptions at this point. Solar radiation appears to be the number one cause. Natural cycles would probably be number 2. Beyond that it is difficult to say because we cannot perform scientific experiments very easily.
6. One final fact that is very often overlooked is that the amount of heat radiated by the earth into space varies as the fourth power of the absolute temperature. Simply put, if we see an increase of 1.4% in radiated energy, we see a strong stabilizing effect on global temperatures. (If the average temperature of the atmosphere rises from 20C to 21C (293K to 294K or .3%), the radiated energy increases by 1.4%.)

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