What Really Causes Global Warming examines a broad range of observations that show that greenhouse warming theory is not only misguided, but not physically possible. Recent warming was caused by ozone depletion due to emissions of human-manufactured gases. We solved that problem with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer stopping the increase in global temperatures by 1998. Volcanoes also deplete ozone. The eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland from August 2014 to February 2015the largest effusive, basaltic, volcanic eruption since 1783caused 2015 to be the hottest year on record. How can we adapt?
“The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.”
Michael Crichton, 2003
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HOW I CAME TO WONDER ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
"In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind."
— Louis Pasteur, 1854
What should I do if this volcano starts to erupt? I'm 19 years old, climbing to the summit of an active volcano in Alaska with my Dartmouth College professor and life-long mentor, Bob Decker. He was already recognized as a world-class expert on active volcanoes, and he went on to be Scientist in Charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and President of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior.
We are walking up the side of Mt. Trident, a volcano named for its three prominent peaks, but we are on a new, fourth peak that has grown nearly 1000 feet (300 meters) vertically in the past ten years. We've studied this volcano from distant hill-tops, from circling around it in a very small airplane, and from pictures of recent eruptions in the files of the National Park Service. Now we are on the ground, exploring the details up close and personal, walking where very few people have been before.
Katmai National Monument, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, is the size of the state of Connecticut, but it is remote country, with only one 23-mile-long dirt road, accessed by float plane. This one-lane, primitive road, still under construction in 1963, heads southeast from Brooks Camp, taking tourists to an overlook from which they can see the Valley of 10,000 Smokes and many volcanoes. We wave goodbye, to the bus driver, shoulder our packs, and hike south for two days through the Valley of 10,000 Smokes and through Katmai Pass for our first glimpse of Trident volcano (Figure 1.1).
The Valley of 10,000 Smokes was named by Robert Griggs, leader of a National Geographic Society expedition in 1916, whose objective was to explore the source of the 1912 eruption of Mt. Katmai, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20 century. Griggs had landed by ship in Katmai Bay, and had then hiked northward along the Katmai River Delta, up past Mt. Trident to Katmai Pass. "The sight that flashed into view as we surmounted the hillock was one of the most amazing visions ever beheld by mortal eye," he wrote. "The whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands — literally, tens of thousands — of smokes curling up from its fissured floor." A frothy cloud of volcanic gases and rock fragments, variously referred to as a pyroclastic flow, a glowing avalanche, or a nuée ardente, had flowed out of the Novarupta vent, filling the valley within minutes with deposits that, when cooled, would become a dense, flinty rock called welded tuff capped with a light, frothy rock called pumice. In 1965, I measured a thickness of the valley fill in one prominent location as 98 feet (30 m), after substantial erosion, but some think that the pyroclastic flow could have been as much as 689 feet (210 m) thick in places. A similar flow in 1902, just ten years before the Katmai eruption, had buried the town of St. Pierre in the Lesser Antilles arc of the Caribbean, killing 30,000 people instantly. In 1963, the Valley of 10,000 Smokes had just a few steaming vents left, and they were barely hot enough to form steam.
In 1953, Trident volcano began forming a new volcanic cone on its southwest flank. The cone had grown 853 feet (260 m) by 1960. Some ash eruptions had reached altitudes of more than 5.6 mi (9 km). Viscous, blocky black lava flowed out of the volcano's vent throughout the 1950s forming flows as thick as 984 feet (300 m), covering 2 mi (5 km) and forming 100-foot high cliffs, far too steep and unstable to climb (Figure 1.2).
As we hike up along the western edge, I am thinking about the awesome power of Nature and about where we should run if the ground starts shaking. What's the quickest way out of here? We think the odds of an eruption today are very low, but they are not zero. I reflect on the lengths to which scientists are willing to go in order to collect quality data. Are we crazy? The volcano actually did explode just three years later.
A large cloud of volcanic gases is blowing southward from the summit, dimming sunlight. As we climb around to the north side of the new peak, we find the wind is blowing so hard that the gases are pushed close to the ground, leaving us clean air to breathe as long as we remain standing (Figure 1.3).
As we climb higher and higher up the new peak, the pungent odor of sulfur dioxide is getting stronger. Too much sulfur dioxide mixed with water in your nose or lungs makes sulfuric acid. Not a healthy combination.
As we climb to the peak, we see more and more fresh sulfur deposited around gas vents — fumaroles — which are getting very close together. Thousands of these are the source of the gas cloud we had seen from below. We try to measure the gas temperature where it comes out of the ground (Figure 1.4), but it drives our thermometer off scale. The ground is too hot to sit on. Even my feet, safely inside my thick-soled Peter Limmer climbing boots, are feeling hot. The power of volcanoes up close truly is impressive. I find myself wondering whether scientists can ever understand volcanoes well enough to predict their eruptions, to save lives, and to minimize economic damage.
Living More Safely With Earthquakes
That was August 1963. In March 1964, the world's second most powerful earthquake ever recorded, with a magnitude of 9.2, ruptured the ground for more than 500 miles (800 km) along a fault stretching to the northeast from well south of Mt. Trident, past Kodiak Island, and all the way to Valdez, Alaska, which is 40 miles east of Anchorage (Figure 1.6).
The ground shook violently for four minutes. I know from personal experience that ground shaking for 20 seconds during an earthquake seems like an eternity. Four minutes! A lot can happen in that amount of time. Water waves — a tsunami — as high as 330 feet inundated the coast of Alaska. The ground moved permanently as much as 38 feet in some locations. Landslides and destroyed buildings were widespread, but thankfully population density was low. Only 139 people were killed, most due to the water waves. In 1976, a hundred times smaller earthquake of magnitude 7.5 in densely populated Tangshan, China, is reported to have killed 655,000 people in 16 seconds of severe ground shaking.
When I arrived back in Anchorage in June, I could see where five blocks of stores along the north side of Fourth Avenue had sunk 12 feet (Figure 1.7).
While I was eating dinner on the top floor of the Anchorage Westward Hotel, the waiter, with eyes as big as saucers, explained to me how everything in that large room slid from wall to wall as the building swayed back and forth for four minutes. The awesome power of the Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 made Mt. Trident seem pretty insignificant. By studying earthquakes, I wondered, could we predict them? Could scientists help us build communities that would be less vulnerable to Nature's wrath?
In June, 1965, I returned to Anchorage on my honeymoon. My wife and I had come to study earthquakes in the vicinity of Mt. Trident and their relationship to volcanism, but now I was a graduate student. I had decided to dedicate my life to studying earthquakes and volcanoes and to learning how we humans could live more safely with these extremes of Nature.
Katmai National Monument had been established in 1918 to preserve the area for the study of volcanism as a result of the Griggs expedition and several articles published in National Geographic. I was fortunate to spend three summers there in the 1960s and five more in the 1980s, studying earthquakes associated with volcanism in what became, in 1980, Katmai National Park, known to most people for the many pictures taken of bears gobbling salmon swimming up Brooks Falls to spawn in Brooks Lake (Figure 1.8).
The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 was a wake-up call for America. After ten years of study, volumes of reports, a devastating magnitude 6.7 earthquake in San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles in 1971, strong interest from Senator Alan Cranston (California), and years of scientific leadership by MIT professor Frank Press, who became Jimmy Carter's Science Advisor, earthquake hazard reduction was becoming a national priority.
On January 1, 1975, I was appointed Chief of the Branch of Seismology, a group of 140 scientists and staff at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, right next to Stanford University. In the 1970s, scientists from around the world were discovering physical changes that were occurring days to months before major earthquakes. On February 4, 1975, local political leaders in Haicheng, Liaoning, China, ordered evacuation of dangerous buildings hours before a magnitude 7.3 earthquake severely damaged this city of one million people, saving countless lives. One tipoff to this earthquake was that snakes began to come out of hibernation during the winter, possibly because of warming of the ground due to rising water levels due to increasing pre-earthquake strain of the ground. Earthquake prediction is a high priority in China, where a majority of people live in poorly-constructed buildings that are likely to be destroyed during major local earthquakes.
There were many other tantalizing observations of possible earthquake precursors from around the world, but none was measured sufficiently well to allow us to understand the physics involved. In early December, 1975, my colleague Bob Castle handed me a preliminary plot of ground deformation northeast of Los Angeles to present at our earthquake advisory panel meeting the next day. Could this deformation be a precursor to the next big southern California earthquake on a fault that had not slipped since 1857? The panel, chaired by Frank Press, agreed that it was entirely possible.
Consequently, in 1976, I was invited to brief the Presidential Advisory Group on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology. Right after my presentation, Edward Teller, of hydrogen bomb fame, turned to Vice President Rockefeller and exclaimed that the possibility of predicting earthquakes was a very promising new advance in science and technology. The ponderous wheels of Washington began to turn a little faster, at least in regard to earthquakes. The Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (Public Law 95-124) established the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. The Branch of Seismology, which I headed, became the Branch of Earthquake Mechanics and Prediction. Excitement was high. We were convinced that earthquakes just might be predictable if we could only trap several of them within dense networks of instruments so that we could map out the physical extent and accurate timing of these apparent precursors. We had already gotten pretty good at mapping out specific regions where earthquakes were most likely to occur — regions known as seismic gaps, where no earthquakes had occurred for decades to centuries. Now, careful scientific observations and research might provide a way to save many lives.
Very soon, however, we began to realize that the physics of earthquake prediction might be easier than the sociology. In the midst of a research program in which you are trying to figure out reliable ways to predict earthquakes, how do you warn people that a major earthquake might occur tomorrow that could kill them, but you are only 5% certain? What action is appropriate if a devastating event is possible within a certain time interval but not highly likely? This made me reflect on our decision that it was okay to explore an active volcano up close, when we thought the likelihood of an eruption was low. Many volcanologists have done that. A few, however, did not return.
If we had credible information that an earthquake might occur, we realized that we had no choice but to communicate what we knew to the people at risk as clearly as we could, but how should we craft our message to make the information most useful? How could we help people prepare to make critical decisions rapidly if a prediction was issued?
We put instruments along many faults where earthquakes were highly likely, hoping to record at least one within a dense network of stations, but to our frustration, no earthquakes came out to play. They were apparently not on the same schedule as federal legislation.
We also found that good scientists, when faced with very sketchy data suggesting that many people could die, sometimes had trouble remaining completely objective. Each of them had a heart. They cared about the people at risk, and they seemed ready to take action even when the evidence was less than compelling. So we formed earthquake prediction review committees to help individual scientists to be as objective as possible before making critical decisions that might either save lives or cause unwarranted disruption.
Within a decade, however, with no large earthquakes occurring near our new instruments, we began to move more of the funding from prediction to hazard reduction — to making communities more resilient for when earthquakes do strike. The possibility of predicting earthquakes drove the establishment of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, but in America where most people live in woodframe homes and well-engineered larger structures that generally survive earthquakes well, we decided that we could get more bang for the buck by reducing hazards and learning how to live more safely with major earthquakes.
Scientists still operate many thousands of instruments for locating earthquakes, monitoring potential precursors, and measuring deformation of the ground as it stores strain, which will be released in a future earthquake. Modern instrumentation is much more precise and covers much larger regions than possible in the 1970s, but predicting the moment when that strain will be released is still elusive.
A devastating earthquake did occur in 1989, the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta Earthquake, that severely damaged parts of San Francisco and Oakland, even though the epicenter was located 44 miles (70 km) to the south. A year later, a committee of scientists, using new methodology, determined that there was a 67% likelihood that a truly devastating earthquake would occur within 30 years along the Hayward Fault that courses through Fremont, Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, and San Pablo in the eastern part of the San Francisco Bay region in California. When it happens, this will likely be the most expensive earthquake in US history because of the population density. To educate the public about this grim likelihood, I was able to create, produce, and distribute, throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, 3.3 million copies of a 24-page magazine, with versions in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Braille, explaining the likelihood of this major earthquake and how to prepare for it. There are many practical actions to take that will reduce the hazards. It was very gratifying for me to be able to advise people based on sound scientific research.
Twenty-five years later, the magazine has been forgotten by most people. This earthquake has still not yet happened — but at some point, it will happen, and while many preparations have been made to reduce losses, it will nonetheless be the most expensive earthquake so far in US history.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "What Really Causes Global Warming?"
Copyright © 2016 Peter Langdon Ward, Phd..
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
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Table of ContentsForeword: A More Persuasive Truth
Overview Climate Is Never “Settled,” and Neither Is Science
Chapter 1 How I Came to Wonder About Climate Change
Chapter 2 Could Climate Change Science Be Mistaken?
Chapter 3 Why Did Global Temperatures Stop Increasing in 1998?
Chapter 4 Do We Really Understand Thermal Energy?
Chapter 5 How Does the Atmosphere Protect Earth From Sun’s “Hottes” Radiation?
Chapter 6 How Do Minute Amounts of Ozone Control Climate
Chapter 7 How Does Temperature Change With Ozone Depletion?
Chapter 8 How Can Volcanoes Both Cool and Warm Earth?
Chapter 9 How Do Volcanic Eruptions Affect Weather?
Chapter 10 Why Does the Greenhouse Effect Appear Not to be Correct?
Chapter 11 What Are Some Other Implications of Light Being a Continuum of Frequency?
Chapter 12 How Could Science Have Been So Far Off the Mark?
Chapter 13 Where Do We Go From Here?
About the Author