A new Perspective on Climate Change

Climate changes and global warming do appear to be taking place due to man-made causes but hitherto it is possible that the cause of it all may have been incorrectly identified by a majority of experts. Statistical correlations can mislead and it appears that the assigned cause - carbon dioxide emissions - may be less relevant to the issue at hand than has been presumed. While a minority had expressed dissent from the start, they were not heeded, perhaps because of socio-political and psychological reasons that fall outside the realm of scientific reasoning. It seems, humans believe more readily what they wish to believe.

The simple and straightforward cause to climate changes aside from natural cycles may be a a reduction of forest and tree cover on the planet over the last century rather than minute increases, in percentage terms, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Far larger quantities of another greenhouse gas - water vapor- have been present in the atmosphere even if it is subject to negative feedback loops as some have tried to assign to it. The other causes are so obvious that it is surprising  they have not been given the importance they deserve. The difficulty now is that a number of intergovernmental panels, NGOs and groups including one of concerned academics at Harvard have believed the experts or misinterpreted their silence and may have jumped on to the bandwagon of an erroneous cause.  None doubts their sincerity and the ability to contribute good in the world, provided they know what the right thing to do is. What will they do now? The answer to that question is also simple. Back track a bit and take a new road. The destination, after all is the same for all - an improved planet.

For those who still do not believe this, all they have to do is step into a forest in hot weather and feel the temperature difference. Is it surprising then that the planet as a whole has become just a bit warmer considering the destruction of forests that has taken place all over the planet for more than a century?

1. A much healthier atmosphere for the production of food and growth of plants and trees requires 1000 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rather than the present 400 ppm. However, the full impact of a higher level of carbon dioxide i.e. 1000 ppm on the full global ecology including the oceans needs further study.

2. Some calculations show that an increase of the greenhouse, gas carbon dioxide from 400 ppm (0.04%) to 1000 ppm (0.1%) will perhaps lead to a global temperature rise of less that 0.1 degree centigrade. However, present stocks of fossil fuels may be insufficient for attaining this level.

3.  The past rise to 400 ppm from 200ppm perhaps may  not have contributed to more that a 0.02 degree centigrade rise in global temperature as per heat transfer estimates.

4. It appears that present levels of carbon dioxide may be too minute to cause climate extremes and disturbances

5. Trees play a major role in cooling the atmosphere and stabilizing climates. Improvements in climate require extensive forestation efforts on the planet. Although growth of many new forests and trees will reduce carbon dioxide levels as they absorb that gas for their growth, it would be towards a useful end of improving climate and environment.
It does seem that many experts would not disagree with conclusion numbers 1 and 5 above. It is conclusions number 2, 3 and 4 that are new. Only a minority of specialists in the area currently accept them. This author believes that future studies will clarify the position further and perhaps support them. The present conclusions do not imply in the least that efforts at development of renewable energy must be slowed down in any manner. Fossil fuels are a limited resource and they are becoming increasingly expensive. Further, their use does cause local pollution if not a global one. Instead what the present conclusions imply is that ignoring the real cause of climate changes and global warming i.e. deforestation and not doing anything substantial about it could be devastating for the planet.

The Complication in the Debate

Often the ordinary world citizen has watched in disgust as private corporations promote even harmful products and services and politicians paid by them in various support it. Therefore when the fossil fuel industry and their political supporters deny climate change the public is naturally skeptical.

The present author has absolutely no affiliation to any fossil fuel industry but has put his independent opinion on the subject as an independent voice. He does not deny climate change but feels it is severe. However if his understanding is that deforestation rather than carbon dioxide is the major cause it just happens to be so. The fossil fuel industry must not be pleased with this author though, because elsewhere he has recommended they pay a tax for the carbon generated to support forestation efforts on the planet. Such forest will not only absorb the carbon but also improve the planet in many other ways. If food producing trees are selected, that would be even more useful.

Putting the Climate Change Controversies to rest – The Way Forward

The believers quote Climate Scientists, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change etc. in support of climate change in general and in particular the role of carbon emissions in contributing to global warming through the greenhouse effect of such emissions.

However there is one serious problem here, consulting climate scientists on the issue is like consulting a brain surgeon for problems of the heart. One might get a guess about it from the brain surgeon but only a cardiologist could give a definite answer. Some such thing is happening with the climate change issue too. While climate scientists know a lot about climate that is not a precise issue at hand and this author is speaking about this as a scientist, being one himself (see this) and not as a general blogger now. Let us frame the key scientific problem that needs an answer precisely. It is this,

“If carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere increases in the range of 0.01 percent to 0.1 percent (the relevant range spanning 100 ppm to 1000 ppm) how much will be the temperature increase in the atmosphere due to addition of to these gases by greenhouse and any other effect.”

Now, if this question was put to a climate scientist he could only make an educated guess about it but it is a heat transfer scientist that can carry out the precise calculation. Even amongst heat transfer scientists there are different ones specializing in different aspects and this task requires a heat transfer scientist specialized in atmospheric radiation heat transfer, not just one, but rather a panel of them. Therefore what is needed is an intergovernmental panel of Atmospheric Radiation Heat Transfer Scientists not one on climate change. It may be mentioned that there are very few such in the world.

Has such a calculation been done? If so, this author would appreciate receiving a reference. He himself is a heat transfer scientist but not one primarily in radiation heat transfer but rather convective heat transfer in enclosed spaces and can only make approximate calculations about it but better than what a climate scientist might do through statistical correlations that are merely a mathematical guess, not a scientific answer.

 Further Reading

The following note is useful reading for any interested citizen of the world who would like to participate more effectively in the climate change debate:
A more detailed explanation of these five points is given in the following article:
A note on the impact of higher carbon dioxide levels on human health and well-being  is here http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/04/impact-of-increased-carbon-dioxide.html
update, May 2015: Quite another view here: http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-32639813 

UPDATE JULY 12, 2014

New studies support the conclusion here: Separating signal and noise in atmospheric temperature changes: The importance of timescale, by Santer B. D. et al, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2011, view online at:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JD016263/abstract

UPDATE October 2015

In several earlier posts of this and other blog including this one this blogger has consistently maintained that while climate changes are taking place and they do seem to be from human causes, this cause cannot be due to carbon dioxide. Its level of 400ppm or 0.04% is simply too small to cause a significant change in temperature as a greenhouse gas. A recent study has validated the author’s claim.Dr David Evans ONE of the world's leading climate change experts claims to have discovered mathematical anomalies which effectively 'disprove' global warming. He said he "mapped out" the architecture of the climate models used and found, that while the physics was correct, it had been "applied wrongly". He claims to have found two reasons for it being wrongly applied, the first being a vastly over estimated impact on our temperature from CO2.

The author still maintains that the human cause that is significantly influencing climate and causing climate extremes is the large scale deforestation that has taken place on the planet over the last century.

Photo above from https://www.facebook.com/ClimateChangeGuide/photos/a.220106464729858.53038.209071469166691/722176571189509/?type=1&theater


ashok said…
I posted this blog post for a discussion in the Green group at linkedin that has a lot of professional visitors interested in the issue. It is being debated there


For thse who are not able to access that discussion the most detailed comment by an expert on the issue and my resposne are as below:

“Dear Dr. Malhotra,
As a religious man, who has written about the esteemed mystics of the Himalayas, don't you find it a bit arrogant to suggest that our waste products are improving the planet? With all due respect, Sir, I find your suggestion, that if we could only reach 1000 ppm, things would be much better-- preposterous. You fail to consider the fact that living systems require many generations to evolve and adapt to changes in factors as fundamental as climate. Yet these changes are occurring very rapidly, in decades rather than centuries or millennia as they have in the past. It's the rapidity of the change that is the biggest threat. What you are suggesting as beneficial, would surely destroy life as we know it..As for you technical publications, I see nothing about radiation heat transfer, a complex science that is the key to understanding the greenhouse effect. I have studied it myself at the graduate level, but I still defer to the experts who work in that field every day, virtually all of whom agree that it is the increase in GHG emission that is driving these disruptive changes to the global climate.
We don't need a fresh look at the problem, we need solutions. We need the politicians, who are not scientifically trained, to understand that action is required, yesterday, not people like you throwing obstacles in the way of progress by fanning the flames of doubt.Certainly, we want to stop deforestation, but that alone will not stabilize the climate.The issue is settled. I will trust, NASA, NOAA, the National Academy of Science, the American Physical Society, the American Meteorological Society, and countless other esteemed groups, with all of their post-docs and supercomputers over some "rough calculations" you made a few years back.”

ashok said…
My reponse there was,

“Dear Bob,

I appreciate your understanding and the fact that you have looked into my background. I do have contribution in radiation heat transfer too but presently these are not listed on the net perhaps.

I agree with you that mankind is adding a lot of unwholesome waste to the planet but I do not regard carbon dioxide as one of them. It is just important to the green side of life as oxygen is to humans. Although the planet has lived with much higher levels of carbon dioxide in the past, I am uncertain about the point you raise that if it is too fast a change for life as we know of it. My intuitive response to it is that it would not create a problem if it rose to 600 ppm or even 1000 ppm over a short period of time. It would be still too small in percentage terms to affect oxygen breathing life forms and as regards plants in green houses, they respond to it positively right away just as humans do to high levels of oxygen in a oxygen bar sometimes or in an ICU. But I shall keep an open mind on the issue as I continue to study it further.

My request to you is to keep an open mind on the issue and I assure you that I shall too. In the meantime I have expressed my opinion as I believe it so far with best interests of the planet and mankind especially the underprivileged of the planet in mind because the gentle hearted must consider the vulnerable first at all times. I believe the current mainstream stance is damaging both to the planet and mankind. First the emphasis on reducing carbon dioxide is making mankind and Intergovernmental panels ignore the issue of a destruction of our planet by deforesting it. Secondly, a stress by some on developing countries whose per capita emission levels are abysmally low compared to say USA, to cut down on cheap sources of energy is pushing more malnourished children, millions of them into starvation while an indecent use of per capita energy continues in the developed nations.

But as I said my mind is open to more study and revision on the issue provided scientific evidence is available for the same.

Best wishes to you, the most important thing as I understand is that our destination is the same, a better planet for all at least as far as I can make out about you. I am afraid though that it is not so for all in the developed world who moved by almighty greed would rather retain their cheap energy usage and prosperity even if the poor of the world starve and indeed that is not surprising when they can do it even within their own countries as found from rising inequalities and person driven out of their homes to the street while bankers with million laugh not all the way to the banks but from the banks to their mansions. :)

Best wishes
ashok said…
What Bob has touched upon in his comment - our waste - is something I touched upon in my book - The Babaji Affair - describing that our waste breath - co2 is a breath of fresh air for plants whereas there waste oxygen is life for us. It is a wonderful design that permitted the green side of life to evolve simultaneously with the oxygen breathing life. There is much more on that and the evolution of life in my other blog - http://alienaccount.blogspot.com
Steve Offutt said…
I would not like to be driving around in a world of 1000 ppm CO2, since many people start to feel drowsy at 800 or so. You know that feeling your get at a big conference in the afternoon? A lot of that is caused by CO2 levels above 800. Most commercial office buildings are required to bring in fresh air to reduce CO2 levels below that. Imagine if there were no fresh air anymore?
Steve Offutt said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Offutt said…
I am also unclear on your assertion that the UNFCCC is not addressing the issue of deforestation. It has been a key issue and continues to be at all the international conferences since the very beginning. REDD is a constant topic of negotiation and effort. I know of no climate change expert who would disagree with the suggestion that we need to slow and stop deforestation and then work on reforestation. Climate scientists agree that about 30% of climate change is caused by deforestation and land-use changes. The majority of climate change, though, continues to be anthropogenic GHG emissions.
ashok said…
Steve delighted to hear your second comment and accordingly I have added a couple of sentences to the original post to clarify that and make it more comprehensive.

I am unsure about the statement in your comment regarding 800 ppm making one drowsy and your second conclusion regarding bringing in fresh air may be something to do with replacing the depleted oxygen. It could also have something to do with the quality of ions. All That has an immediate impact on a feeling of freshness but it appears to be unrelated to the fact if CO2 is 0.01 percent (100 ppm) or 0.1 percent (1000 ppm).

However your comment is appreciated as I now look forward to studying more in that direction. Thanks for your comments. They add much value to this very important post. We need sincere and uninfluenced views from all sides of the debate as yours appear to be to arrive at the best possible conclusions.
ashok said…
Steve an experiment to verify your first conclusion would be to replace some stale air in an enclosed space with a mixture of say 5 percent CO2 ( and other levels between 1 and 5 percent) and 95 percent pure oxygen and look for the response. My estimate presently is that there would be a feeling of freshness because of increased oxygen despite CO2 but one can only say that after further study. A difficulty with enclosed spaces is that a rise in CO2 is accompanied by a fall in oxygen levels since that is how enclosed space CO2 is produced i.e by depleting oxygen. In open spaces and the planet as a whole a rise in CO2 accompanied by green plants and trees breathing that in and breathing out fresh oxygen does not lead to a similar phenomenon.
ashok said…
Steve I withdraw my statement that more experiments may be needed for breathing in mixtures of High CO2 and oxygen. Numerous studies have already been done and you shall find many scholarly and medical articles on that through a google search. Apparently high level of CO2 even as high as 10 percent that is 100,000 ppm with high levels of oxygen have numerous health even psychological benefits. Just quoting two references here as a quick random selection



Hari Chand said…
I can not ascertain the amount of CO2 permissible for symbiotic survival of plant and animal species, rather I feel that diminishing forest cover may not be directly related to diminishing CO2. But there may be other toxic gases which we produce in abundance these days and use of pesticides etc. which are most likely causes of diminishing forests, as these toxins have been linked to dwindling animal and birds populations as well. So, without ascertaining effects of such toxins on plants and raising CO2 levels may not give us desired results. And yes, sure, changes must be slow, as it is not always easy to predict the effect of artificial changes, and sufficient time lag must be in place to analyze the effects and act accordingly.
ashok said…
Thanks for your comments Hari Chand ji. I too feel that chemical toxins have impacted on the health of plants, animals and humans adversely. However as regards the number of trees and reduction of forests the primary cause is humans cutting them down for building roads, cities and agricultural fields and for their needs such as construction.

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