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No. 239 "Vital Articles on Science/Creation" May 1993
THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT AND PRE-FLOOD DAYS
by Ronald L. Cooper*
Copyright (c) 1993 by I.C.R.
All Rights Reserved
* Dr. Cooper is a U.S. Government Economist working on assignment
During the late 1980s and 1990s, the alleged "Greenhouse Effect"
captured the interest of news magazines, radio, and television programs.
Predictions from various scientists range from a coming cataclysmic,
worldwide impact to little or no impact at all. However, those
scientists on the apocalyptic side seem to have captured the greatest
interest from the media as well as policy makers from state governments
and international organizations, such as the World Bank. Foreboding
scenarios are conjured, including world food shortages, melting polar
ice caps accompanied by severe flooding of coastal land masses,
destruction of ecosystems, and greatly increased severity of storm
activity (hurricanes, etc.). Most of the greenhouse effect is attributed
to the burning of fossil fuels which releases tremendous amounts of
carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere, trapping heat and
warming the planet.
Because of the many ominous predictions for the climate, policy makers
from both national governments and international organizations are
demanding policy adoptions in the form of carbon taxes, mandated
efficiency measures, and subsidies for non-carbon dioxide-emitting
technologies to roll back greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990
levels. While there is disagreement among climatologists regarding
the significance of the "greenhouse" effect, there seems to be more
agreement among other investigators that "cutting back" significantly on
greenhouse gas emissions would have more serious negative
worldwide impacts, with large Gross Domestic Product reductions,
resulting in lower living standards in the long run. Looking back to
the recent past, it is now all but forgotten that some outspoken
climatologists in the late 1970s predicted a completely opposite
scenario, a return to an ice age with cataclysmic impacts, which also
demanded immediate attention.
The Use of Climate Models
To measure historical as well as future impacts of carbon dioxide
emissions on climate variables, scientists have developed mathematical
climate models, whose features are discussed in a recent book by Robert
Balling. He points out that many of these climate models predict
substantial increases in global temperature for increases in carbon
dioxide levels, and it is these predictions that have attracted the
attention of policy makers and the media. For example, a doubling of
carbon dioxide levels results in an increase in global temperatures in
eight climate models mentioned by Balling. Based on these models,
global average temperature increases from a low of 1.9 to a high of 4.8
degrees centigrade. What is generally not appreciated is that the models
also unanimously predict increases in precipitation as well as increases
in temperature, and these levels range from 3 to 15 percent.
What is also usually neglected in the popular press is that the climate
models have significant limitations on the simulation of the
ocean-atmosphere interaction, which is not yet well understood. Balling
says, "Until we have better knowledge of the coupling between oceans and
the atmosphere, the model predictions must be treated with considerable
caution." Another very significant difference among the models is
their cloud-climate responses.
The Historical Temperature Record and Future Implications
In Figure 1, we show global average temperature anomalies for the period
1881 to 1990. If we fit a linear trend line through the data, we find
that global average temperature has increased by .56 degrees centigrade.
However, over this same period, equivalent carbon dioxide levels have
increased by about 40 percent. Assuming that there is a relationship
between carbon dioxide levels and temperature change, this would imply
an increase in temperature of about 1.4 degrees for a doubling of carbon
dioxide levels, which is below the temperature range predicted by the
climate models reported by Balling.
However, it often can be misleading to fit a linear trend line through
historical data and draw firm conclusions from it. Referring to Figure 1
gain, we have fit two additional trend lines through the historical
temperature data -- a quadratic and a cubic trend. Using these three
trend equations, we have extrapolated temperature anomalies from 1991 to
2050, and we observe a wide range of temperature difference, depending
upon which historical trend is used. Thus, historical data may not
determine a unique trend and can be highly misleading in predicting
future temperature changes.
The interpretation of the temperature data in relation to carbon dioxide
levels gets even more difficult when the global average temperature is
separated into northern and southern hemisphere temperature anomalies.
For example, if the period in which most of the temperature increases
occurred is examined (1881 to 1940), we find that the northern and
southern temperature series are not related to each other in a stable
manner. In contrast, we do find a stable relationship between the
northern and southern hemisphere
temperatures for the period 1941 to 1990. Thus, different factors may
have been at work.
Stabilizing Factors at Work
Dr. Sherwood B. Idso, a research physicist with U.S. Water Conservation
Laboratory, Phoenix, Arizona, has found that the "greenhouse effect"
could in fact turn out to be beneficial rather than harmful to the
planet. In his experiments, Dr. Idso has found that plants, when
enriched with more carbon dioxide, "grow bigger and better, much like
the plants of past geological epochs of biological prominence."
Furthermore, "the efficiency with which plants use water to produce
organic matter, essentially doubles with a doubling of the atmospheric
carbon dioxide concentration. Moreover, for a tripling of the amount of
carbon dioxide in the air, it nearly triples!" According to Dr.
Idso, because plants use water more efficiently with higher carbon
dioxide concentrations, they will grow in places where they have not
been able to grow in the past. Below ground, the soil will become more
enriched, which will increase microbiological activity, such as
increasing the supply of earthworms. Dr. Idso also has found that some
plants increased net photosynthesis rates of exposed leaves by
approximately 50 percent. In an experiment with orange trees exposed to
increased carbon dioxide levels, he found after a 30-month period that
the enhanced carbon dioxide-exposed trees were more than twice as large
as the trees exposed to ambient air. Dr. Idso concludes, "It well could
be that the rising carbon dioxide content of Earth's atmosphere is
actually a blessing in disguise and one of the better things that could
happen to mankind and nature."
Global Warming and the Pre-Flood Era
Although the results of Dr. Idso's research need to be studied
further, it is intriguing to speculate about the implications of plants
growing larger and becoming more environmentally efficient as carbon
dioxide levels increase. Could it be that during the pre-flood time, not
only was there a water-vapor canopy and a tropical environment, there
also were significantly increased carbon dioxide levels than what is
contained in the earth's atmosphere today? If this were the case,
then there might have been much greater vegetation than we have today.
With increased vegetation, there would have been a great need for large
plant-eating animals such as dinosaurs to control vegetation levels. In
addition, the large vegetation levels could have provided more than
adequate material for the production of great quantities of fossil fuels
during Noah's Flood.
It seems that today's environmental policy-makers could learn a great
lesson from pre-Flood history as depicted in the Bible. If carbon
dioxide levels were much higher during the pre-Flood era, then this
implies that there are built-in global stabilizing factors provided by
our Creator that can accommodate changes in carbon dioxide levels from
the burning of fossil fuels and other man-made greenhouse emission
activities. Once again, reference to God's Word can give tremendous
insight into solving today's scientific problems.
-- REFERENCES --
1. This topic also was discussed in an earlier "Impact" article.
See Larry Vardiman, "The Christian and the Greenhouse Effect,"
_Impact_, No. 204, ICR, June 1990.
2. World Bank, 1992 World Development Report.
3. Peter Hoeller, Andrew Dean, and Jon Nicolaisen, "Macroeconomic
Implications of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Survey of
Empirical Studies," _OECD_Economic_Studies_, No. 16, Spring 1991,
4. Robert C. Balling, Jr., "The Heated Debate: Greenhouse Predictions
Versus Climate Reality," Pacific Research Institute for Public
Policy, San Francisco, California, 1992.
5. Ibid., pp. 17-32.
6. Ibid., p. 40.
7. Ibid., Table 2, p. 41.
8. Ibid., p. 44.
9. All data series used in this analysis were obtained from Trends '91:
A Compendium of Data on Global Change, Carbon Dioxide Information
Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National
10. For a description of testing for unit roots and cointegration, see
Andrew C. Harvey, _Forecasting,_Structural_Time_Series_Models,_and_
the_Kalman_Filter_, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge CB2 1RP,
11. Sherwood B. Idso, "Carbon Dioxide Can Revitalize the Planet,"
_OPEC_Bulletin_, March 1992, pp. 22-27.
12. Ibid., p. 24.
13. Ibid., p. 27.
14. For a discussion of the pre-Flood environment, see Henry M. Morris,
_The_Genesis_Record_, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan,1976.
This "Impact" was converted to ASCII, for BBS use,
from the original formatted desktop article.
Comments regarding typographical errors
in the above material are appreciated.
Don Barber, ICR Systems Administrator
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