Thursday, April 11, 2013

Joe 'Idiot' Barton: "Great Flood was an Example of Climate Change" - But Humans Had Nada to do with it!

Graph of radiocarbon (C14) excess over C12 over ~ 2,000 yr. period. The zero level is an arbitrary norm referenced to 1890. Arrows mark persistent features identified as possible solar anomalies. (From Eddy, J. 'Evidence for a Changing Sun' in The NEW SOLAR PHYSICS, AAAS Symposium 1978)

According to another fundie nitwit, in this case a congress critter,  "Noah's Flood" was an example of climate change but it also shows - since so few humans inhabited the planet then, climate change isn't human-caused or to do with hydrocarbons.

 Buzzfeed reports that during a Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline, Joe Barton blabbed:

"I would point out that if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy,”

Well, the point is there is no hard and fast evidence for any "great flood"! At least that has been published in any recognized oceanographic or geological journal.  Barton went on to insist:

“I think you can have an honest difference of opinion of what’s causing that change without automatically being either all in that’s all because of mankind or it’s all just natural. I think there’s a divergence of evidence.”
But in fact the "divergence" in evidence of which he speaks is essentially non-existent! In their analysis of the extent of scientific consensus on global warming (Eos Transactions, Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 22) , P. T. Doran and M. Kendall-Zimmerman found that (p. 24)

“the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.”

In their analytic survey for which 3146 climate and Earth scientists responded, a full 96.2% of specialists concurred temperatures have steadily risen and there is no evidence for cooling. Meanwhile, 97.4% concurred there is a definite role of humans in global climate change. The authors concluded (p. 24) :

“The challenge appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact (non-existent debate among real climate specialists) to policy makers and a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate exists among scientists”
In truth, Barton's bollocks is just one more in a long line for agnotology, to provide cover for the fossil fuel burner industry. See, e.g.
To go back and compare records from 2,000 years ago, using the same physical factors, has been the problem but it was resolved in the 1960s when a series of papers demonstrated that radiocarbon (C14) in plant cellulose could be used as an indirect or proxy register of solar activity.  In general, C14 is produced in the upper atmosphere via the impact –interaction with high energy cosmic rays, say from galactic sources. Solar activity in turn modulates the intensity of these cosmic rays via the action of the heliosphere which deflects a fraction of the intense cosmic ray flux and other harmful interstellar radiation.
At times the Sun is more active, so also will the heliosphere be stronger, shielding the Earth from more intense cosmic rays the effect of which is to reduce the C14 produced in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Conversely, when the Sun is less active – as it’s been from 2000- 2008 then the shield is weaker and more intense cosmic rays penetrate to our upper atmosphere yielding more C14 produced. It follows from this that if a record could be obtained of the ratio of say C14 to C12 then one would have a proxy indicator of solar activity for any time (with the C14 to C12 ratio extracted from tree rings or other plant tissue). If such a record showed falling C14 to C12 then we’d deduce higher solar activity and if increased C14 to C12 lower solar activity. If the same ratios were obtained in the modern era it might be feasible to normalize all the results to compare them and draw conclusions.

Most importantly and crucially, since the Sun isn’t the exclusive modulator of cosmic rays (clearly if there’s an anthropogenic effect that would also impact the high atmosphere and modulate intensity and C14 production, as would a changing magnetic moment for the planet) then the C14 record embedded in tree rings would have to be expected to be inscribed with other histories too.

Fortuitously, a 2000-year record of C14:C12 deviations has been compiled by P.E. Damon ('The Solar Output and Its Variation', The University of Colorado Press, Boulder, 1977) and this is shown in the accompanying graph. To conform with solar activity the plot is such that increasing radiocarbon (C14) is downward and indicated with (+). The deviations in parts per thousand are shown relative to an arbitrary 19th century reference level.

As John Eddy observes concerning this output and the data (Eddy, 'The New Solar Physics',  p. 17):

“The gradual fall from left to right (increasing C14/C12 ratio) is…probably not a solar effect but the result of the known, slow decrease in the strength of the Earth’s magnetic moment.[1] exposing the Earth to ever-increased cosmic ray fluxes and increased radiocarbon production.

The sharp upward spike at the modern end of the curve, representing a marked drop in relative radiocarbon, is generally attributed to anthropogenic causes—the mark of increased population and the Industrial Age."

Assuming the validity of the arbitrary norm (zero line or abscissa) for 1890, then it is clear that the magnitude of the Middle Ages warming period (relative C14 strength of -18),  as well as that for 0 AD (about the same) are both  less than about ½ the relative effect attributed mainly to anthropogenic sources in the modern era (-40).  Again, this era commences with the hydrocrabon -pumping Industrial Age.

So Barton and his agnotologists are wrong again. Or maybe not so much wrong, as wiley like a fox.  After all, Barton, is one of Congress’s top recipients of oil company campaign donations, and is perhaps best known for apologizing to BP for what he called a White House ”shakedown,” after the Obama Administration announced that it would set up a $20-billion escrow fund to benefit victims of the 2010 BP oil spill.

By the way, excellent documented footage on the current rapid melting of glaciers world wide can be found at this link:

It ought to get even the most blinkered global warming denier's attention!

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