Climate Change: The Mystery of the Missing Adjective

Click on the image above for a quick discussion on just the facts.

Climate-change activists say climate change is real. I agree. Wholeheartedly. It’s been in a constant cycle of change since the dawn of Creation.

An adjective is a word imputing a characteristic to a noun or pronoun; it modifies the meaning of a noun. Anthropogenic, meaning caused or produced by humans, is one such adjective. If I were to say to you, “I saw a man.” How would your paradigm change by my saying either “I saw a tall, skinny man” or “I saw a short, fat man”?

What factors affect the earth’s climate? Let’s learn from the British Geological Survey, the equivalent to our USGS.

Strength of the sun

Only about 40 per cent of the solar energy intercepted at the top of the atmosphere passes through to the Earth’s surface. Almost all of the energy that affects the climate on the Earth originates from the Sun. The energy emitted by the sun passes through space until it hits the Earth’s atmosphere. The rest is reflected or absorbed by the atmosphere. The energy output of the sun is not constant, it varies over time and it has an impact on our climate.

Changes in the Earth’s orbit

The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is an ellipse, not a circle but the ellipse changes shape. Sometimes it is almost circular and the Earth stays approximately the same distance from the Sun as it progresses around its orbit. At other times the ellipse is more pronounced so that the Earth moves closer and further away from the sun as it orbits. When the Earth is closer to the sun our climate is warmer.

Earth’s Circular Orbit
Earth’s Elliptical Orbit

The Earth showing angle of axis of rotation. When the angle increases the summers become warmer and the winters become colder. The Earth rotates around an axis (imagine a line that joins the north and south poles) but the Earth’s axis is not upright, it leans at an angle. This angle changes with time and over about 41 000 years it moves from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees and back again. When the angle increases the summers become warmer and the winters become colder.

Changes in the orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation

Earth’s Axis of Rotation

The Earth showing angle of axis of rotation. When the angle increases the summers become warmer and the winters become colder. The Earth rotates around an axis (imagine a line that joins the north and south poles) but the Earth’s axis is not upright, it leans at an angle. This angle changes with time and over about 41 000 years it moves from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees and back again. When the angle increases the summers become warmer and the winters become colder.

Quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

The gases that contribute most to the Earth’s greenhouse effect are: water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and ozone. These include carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor. Of these three, water vapor makes the greatest contribution to the greenhouse effect because there is more of it. These gases trap solar radiation (electromagnetic radiation emitted by the Sun) in the Earth’s atmosphere, making the climate warmer.

Carbon dioxide content of the oceans

The oceans contain more carbon dioxide (CO2) than the atmosphere and they can also absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. When the CO2 is in the oceans it does not trap heat as it does when it is in the atmosphere. If CO2 leaves the oceans and moves back into the atmosphere this can contribute towards a warmer climate.

Plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions

Over time, plate tectonic processes cause continents to move to different positions on the globe. The movement of the plates also causes volcanoes and mountains to form and these too can contribute to a change in climate. Large mountain chains can influence the circulation of air around the globe, and consequently influence the climate. Warm air might be deflected somewhere cooler by the mountains. Volcanoes affect the climate through the gases and dust particles thrown into the atmosphere during eruptions. The effect of the volcanic gases and dust may warm or cool the Earth’s surface, depending on how sunlight interacts with the volcanic material.

Plate Tectonics Form Mountain Ranges
Plate Tectonics Form Volcanoes

Ocean currents

Oceans store a large amount of heat, so that small changes in ocean currents can have a large effect on coastal and global climate. Ocean currents carry heat around the Earth. The direction of these currents can shift so that different areas become warmer and cooler. Oceans store a large amount of heat, so that small changes in ocean currents can have a large effect on coastal and global climate.

Vegetation coverage on the land

On a global scale, patterns of vegetation and climate are closely correlated. Vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide and this can buffer some of the effects of global warming.

Meteorite impacts

Nowadays, most of what is on the Earth stays on the Earth; very little material is added by meteorites and cosmic dust. The only material lost to space is in space hardware. However, meteorite impacts have contributed to climate change in the geological past; a good example is the Chicxulub crater, Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Large impacts such as Chicxulub can cause a range of effects that include dust and aerosols being ejected high into the atmosphere that prevent sunlight from getting through. These materials insulate the Earth from solar radiation and cause global temperatures to fall; the effects can last for a few years (Kring, 2007). After the dust and aerosols fall back to Earth, the greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, water and methane), caused by the interaction of the impactor and its ‘target rocks’, remain in the atmosphere and can cause global temperatures to increase; the effects can last decades (Kring, 2007).

Cosmic dust adds about 40,000 metric tons per year to Earth’s mass. Even though this may seem like a very large amount, it is in fact minuscule compared to our planet’s mass (about 6,000 billion billion metric tons). Astronomy Magazine

The heat from within the Earth

Heat from Earth’s magma contributes to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Scientists have discovered what they think may be another reason why Greenland ‘s ice is melting: a thin spot in Earth’s crust is enabling underground magma to heat the ice. They have found at least one “hotspot” in the northeast corner of Greenland — just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered. The researchers don’t yet know how warm the hotspot is. But if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could be lubricating the base of the ice sheet and enabling the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea. Science Daily

Sum of the parts

Each of the above factors contribute to changes in the Earth’s climate, however the way they interact with each other makes it more complicated. A change in any one of these can lead to additional and enhanced changes in the others. For example, we understand that the oceans can take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere: When the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the temperature of the Earth rises. This in turn would contribute to a warming of the oceans. Warm oceans are less able to absorb CO2 than cold ones, so as the temperature rises, the oceans release more CO2 into the atmosphere, which in turn causes the temperature to rise again. This process is called feedback.

Climate-change activists believe weather changes are anthropogenic. Their contemporary champion is a Swedish teen who replaces previous champions like Al Gore. Keep in mind this truth: a belief system is a religion.

When men can move mountains, slake the heat of volcanoes, reroute ocean currents, and stall plate tectonics, then I shall become a fellow believer in anthropogenic climate change. Until such time comes to pass, I shall attribute climate change to nature and nature’s God.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Further Study

Over geologic time, limestone may become exposed (due to tectonic processes or changes in sea level) to the atmosphere and to the weathering of rain. The carbonic acid that forms when carbon dioxide dissolves in water, in turn, dissolves carbonate rocks and releases carbon dioxide. – NASA: Weathering of Carbonate Rocks

Metamorphic degassing from active collisional orogens supplies a significant fraction of CO2 to the atmosphere, playing a key role in the long-term global carbon cycle1-4. Primary geologic settings for the production of significant amounts of metamorphic CO2 include “large-hot” collisional orogens, where decarbonation reactions occur at a relatively high temperature within carbonate-bearing metasediments (e.g. calc-silicate rocks), in which metamorphic reactions between carbonates and silicates trigger CO2 production. – INSTITUT DE PHYSIQUE DU GLOBE DE PARIS: Metamorphic CO2-production in Himalaya: Where? How? How much? When? And then?

For decades, it has been a given that heavy rainfall on steep mountain slopes is likely to chemically weather the exposed rock and precipitate a chemical reaction that ends with carbonate minerals on the ground and with less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So geochemistry and the weather between them help moderate the planet’s climate. But geologists and oceanographers who took another and closer look at the process in action – in the central mountains of Taiwan, hammered by three or more major typhoons each year – say they are not so sure. They report in the journal Science that the same erosion process could be a source of carbon dioxide, releasing it into the atmosphere far faster that it can be absorbed by the newly exposed rock. – Physics World: Erosion may be carbon source, not sink

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