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Testing the Carbon Footprint Solution

By David T. Cramer, M.S.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an organization of mostly publically funded scientists who
work under the auspices of the United Nations. Although the IPCC claims to be policy-neutral and never policyprescriptive,1 the overall thrust of the IPCC is recommending greater governmental intervention in the organization of
human action to stave off an impending catastrophic change in the climate. In other words, global warming (radiative
forcing caused by human activity) is characterized as a social problem which requires dramatic changes in social structure
to save the Earth and humans from a climate change apocalypse. Is increasing governmental interference justified? Are
we mere humans at the mercy of climate scientists for our understanding, or can a community college instructor of
sociology, whose methods are different from climatologists, test the predictions of threatened doom? Is there a method
applicable to both climatology and sociology?
Philosophy is the discipline most concerned with the study of truth as separate from individual specializations which
developed with the increased division of labor. Indeed, all knowledge seeking disciplines are rooted in philosophy. At
least two truth testing methods found in philosophy, and derived from the Law of Identity, are applicable to both
climatology and sociology.
1. The Correspondence Theory of Truth tests whether the theory accurately reflects what we already know to be
true.
2. The Coherence Theory of Truth tests whether the theory is self-contradictive.
The IPCC has mostly focused attention upon the one greenhouse gas known as carbon dioxide.2 To mitigate climate
change, we humans should limit our carbon dioxide emissions in an effort to keep the parts per million measured in the
atmosphere to fewer than 450.3 Furthermore, the burning of fossil fuels by humans is seen as one of the leading carbon
dioxide contributors. If governments intervene to force a reduction of the use of fossil fuels, they will reduce the risk of
a climate change apocalypse.

FOSSIL FUELS

CARBON DIOXIDE

GLOBAL WARMING

CATASTROPHE

GOVERNMENTS
Global Temperature
Temperature is a measurement of the amount of heat in an entity at a specific moment in time. Unless the entity is in a
perfect state of thermodynamic equilibrium, its recorded temperature is not a constant but is rather a snapshot of the
transfer of heat.
Temperature has an empirical quality. The climatologist and the sociologist may both view a thermometer at five oclock
in the morning on a specific date and agree upon the measured temperature. If we can see, smell, taste, touch, or hear
the phenomenon, then we are dealing with an empirical truth which we can agree on. At precisely 5:05:33 AM on the
morning of January 12, 2014, the temperature measured by the thermometer located at 555 Anywhere Street of any town
was X; furthermore, we might agree X was the lowest temperature on that day of that year at that specific location.
Whether the climatologist or the sociologist agrees on the IPCCs model of impending doom, they can certainly agree on
an empirical measurement of temperature in a particular location at a specific time. There is very little possibility of ones
paradigm, or political bias, affecting the kind of empirical measurement described above.
1

http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization.shtml
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter08_FINAL.pdf
3
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch3s3-3-5-1.html
2

We can also agree the Sun is the primary source of said heat since Venus is hotter and Mars is colder, since the rotation
of the Earth causes daytime heating and nightly cooling, and since the revolution of the tilted Earth around the Sun
explains seasonal changes in heat transfer.

Geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists may comment that most of us are very narrow minded when it
comes to our perception of time. The Earth has existed for around 4.6 billion years and has experienced a number of ice
ages which were interspersed with glacial and interglacial periods. Hence, we know the atmosphere warmed and cooled
throughout the Earths history and in a dramatic fashion when we extend our perception of time by viewing geological
evidence. The climatologist and sociologist can agree on this empirical observation even though humans,
industrialization, and thermometers have just barely arrived on the scene.

Milankovitch discovered three variables helping us understand transfer of heat on the Earths surface. 1. The Earths
revolution around the Sun is sometimes more, and sometimes less elliptical, caused by the gravitational pull of Saturn and
Jupiter and so the Earth moves closer to and further from the Sun over tens of thousands of years. 2. The Earths tilt
varies about four degrees over a period of about forty thousand years. 3. The Earth wobbles a bit on its axis. The
climatologist and sociologist can agree the positioning of the Earth in relation to the Sun impacts heat transfer within the
Earths atmosphere and that said positioning-changes occur over thousands of years.
The following line graph, illustrating a rapid cooling from 1939 to 1970, was created in 1969 and was the basis for a
global cooling scare. While attending Pittsburg State University in the 1980s, I learned from Dr. Schick that reputable
scientists and journalists believed governments should intervene to deal with the impending disaster caused by a rapid
cooling of the atmosphere which was said to be caused in part by industrial emission of particulates and threatened to
interfere with nature made Milankovitch heating and cooling cycles.

The following line graphs were published by NASA in 1999.

The following line graphs were published by NASA sometime after 2000.

The fear of global cooling has subsided and the NASA line graphs are evidence supporting the prediction of catastrophic
global warming. The Earth is expected to warm to a level which will knock natural systems out of balance; the
disequilibrium will melt the polar caps and cause floods, droughts, hurricanes, and even the extinction of species.
Critics notice historically recorded temperature has changed when examining the NASA graphs. How is it possible for an
empirical temperature recorded in the 1930s to change? Perhaps a researcher time traveled via some kind of hole in the
universe to the past and corrected mistakes by those who recorded temperatures in the 1930s. Or perhaps the
temperature was adjusted based upon educated guesses about empirical measurements. If you chose the second option,
you were correct.
We know from the Law of Identity the two graphs depicting US temperatures cannot both be correct. Hence, both the
sociologist and the climatologist can agree there is a bit of a problem with the science of climate change when we apply
the Coherence Theory of Truth. The second graph contradicts the first graph even though both were portrayed as
representing something which is empirical and recorded. 1999 is cooler than the 1930s in the first graph while 1999 is
hotter than the 1930s in the second graph. Are the states united in America warming or cooling?
The temperature reported by NASA and the IPCC is a human constructed model which is adjusted from time to time
and which relies upon the educated guesses of researchers. For example, they guess that a combination of temperature
anomalies is a better indicator of global temperature than a combination of typical temperatures. They guess their model
has adjusted correctly for urban warming and the empirical fact that most locations upon the Earth are not measured for
temperature. They guess a mean score is a better representative of global temperature than other measures of central
tendency such as the most frequently occurring temperatures and the median temperatures. They guess their model
corrects for all the many differences in the times of day when temperatures were recorded in the past by many different
individuals using many different makes and models of thermometers, using many different makes and models of
eyeglasses, and located in continuously changing terrains. Keep in mind their model is about increases in global
temperature of only fractions of a degree. Since both line graphs cannot be correct, and since there are so many
uncontrollable variables, neither accurately corresponds with the heat transfer on Earth. Indeed, representing heat
transfer on Earth with a single number seems irresponsible, at the very least, given the number is by necessity only a
model of temperature comprised of many educated guesses about only some of the selected measurements.
Carbon Dioxide
What do we know about fossil fuels and carbon dioxide? Carbon is stored in fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which holds heat and is released when we use fossil fuels. The parts per million of
carbon dioxide measured in Hawaii has increased from 315 in 1959 to 397 in 2014. Human population exploded in the
1900s as did the burning of fossil fuels. Hence the climatologist and the sociologist can agree the burning of fossil fuels
has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In addition to keeping the atmosphere warm enough for habitation, carbon dioxide is needed by plants for
photosynthesis. Hundreds of controlled experiments, thousands of greenhouse operators, and satellite studies of the
Earth, have demonstrated plants do better in an atmosphere containing more carbon dioxide than found in most
geographical areas today.4 Because plants take in carbon and expel oxygen, they provide a negative feedback in the
concentration of carbon in the atmosphereas atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, so does plant biomass increase
which thereby takes in additional carbon dioxide and increases oxygen in the atmosphere. No respectable sociologist or
climatologist would deny the impact of photosynthesis upon the various gases in the atmosphere; neither would they
deny the satellite measured plant biomass upon the surface of the Earth has increased.5
The geological record indicates the level of carbon dioxide in the Earths atmosphere has ranged from a high of around
7,000 parts per million (toxic to humans at 5,000 parts per million) to a low of around 180 parts per million. Carbon
dioxide is not just nice to have but is critical to life. Animals, including humans, depend upon plants for energy and
4
5

http://ecocast.arc.nasa.gov/pubs/pdfs/1997/Myneni_Nature.pdf
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract

oxygen. Plants depend upon carbon dioxide. Without plants, animals die; without carbon dioxide, plants die. Because
the past sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide were expected to end, e.g., declining volcanic activity as the Earth cools,
life on Earth was predicted to end within the next one billion years.
The latest IPCC report stated the ERF [effective radiative forcing] calculations presented here allow all physical variables
to respond to perturbations except for those concerning the ocean and sea ice. Perturbation means a deviation of a
system, moving object, or process from its regular or normal state of path, caused by an outside influence. The IPCC
model assumes human activity is outside the system. Are humans an outside influence? Humans are not importing
greenhouse gas emissions from some other planet. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are a part of the
overall system. Humans evolved with the Earth and its biosphere. Humans are not a deviation but a part of the process
and its regular or normal path. The carbon released by burning fossil fuels was already here and was sequestered by
past organisms. Getting carbon out of the earth and back into habitats is beneficial to life which has grown.
Following the Correspondence Theory of Truth, we can support the first cause and effect relationship in the IPCC
model. Humans are burning more fossil fuels and thereby releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Does the
first cause and effect relationship lead to global warming and catastrophic climate change?
We know carbon dioxide reduces the transfer of heat into outer space. We know additional heat increases water
evaporation which acts both as a greenhouse gas and as a cooling agent. With additional water vapor, we get additional
snowfall which reflects heat back into outer space. With additional water vapor we get additional cloud cover which
reflects heat into outer space during the day and retains heat during the night. Additional water vapor, along with
additional carbon dioxide, increases plant biomass whichas noted abovesequesters carbon dioxide and thereby
increases heat transfer. When water vapor condenses and falls from the atmosphere, it reduces heat. We know there are
multiple feedback mechanisms which function to moderate heat transfer to outer space. Does anyone know all of the
mechanisms?
In an attempt to predict the future, atmospheric scientists create computer models which attempt to take into account the
multiple variables known to impact energy (heat) transfer. Dr. Roy Spencer, of the University of Alabama, tested the
climate change models against surface and satellite temperatures from 1983 to present. All models failed to correspond
to the temperature changes recorded. Ninety-five percent of the computer models predicted warmer temperatures than
what seemed to occur.

Some scientists, who are advocating the IPCC agenda, became suspicious of their own recorded global temperatures. If
the climate-change model states we should see higher temperatures, then maybe the global temperature is wrong.
Spencer believes the climate change models are wrong and the recorded temperatures more accurately reflect a global
temperature. Either way, the IPCC model is self-contradictory and does not correspond with what we already know to
be true. As sociologists we cannot recommend social policy aimed at reducing ones carbon footprint based upon a
climate change science which, so far anyway, fails both the Correspondence Theory of Truth and the Coherence Theory
of Truth.