Global change, climate change,
CO2, N2O, CH4, electromagnetic radiation,
the sun, cosmic rays, science, and politics..
Life on Earth evolves under continuously changing environmental conditions. Changes in climate, the atmosphere, geo-morphology, ocean currents, hydrology, soils, habitats: they all may affect the functioning of ecosystems and the diversity of organisms they sustain.
"Global change" is the term used to encompass a multitude of environmental and ecological changes that have been noticed, measured and studied on Earth. Global change encompasses the study of climate change, pollution, species extinction, land use change, changes in the carbon cycle and hydrologic cycle, as well as many other areas. Many university courses that are titled Global Change study these various components and explore how they interact with one another, how they influence one another and how human impacts have led to changes in those areas.
Since the Soviet Union launched the tiny satellite called Sputnik in 1957, hundreds of men and women and thousands of electronic "eyes" have looked back at Earth, capturing images that reveal certain effects of human activity on the Earth's natural systems. People have increased the use of air, water, and other natural resources by a factor of 10 in the last 200 years.
"Climate change" supposedly caused by human-made CO2 emissions, is currently a hot topic in the political agenda. What disturbs me the most is that the political agenda around the "environment" is almost entirely concentrated on the climate/CO2 issue. My view is that the climate issue could be different than most people think (more complex, see below) and that many other aspects of human caused "global change" are not getting enough attention, like air and water pollution with dangerous chemicals, the destruction of the rainforests and other natural habitats, severe land-use changes, species extinction, electromagnetic radiation, etc.
There is no doubt that the air's CO2 concentration has risen significantly since the inception of the Industrial Revolution; and there are few who do not attribute that CO2 increase to the increase in humanity's use of fossil fuels. There is also no doubt the earth has warmed slightly over the same period; but there is no compelling proof that the rise in temperature was caused by the rise in CO2 ("correlation does not mean causation").
In considering the seven greatest temperature transitions of the past half-million years - three glacial terminations and four glacial inceptions - it is noted that increases and decreases in atmospheric CO2 concentration not preceded the changes in air temperature, they "followed" them by a few hundreds to thousands of years. There were also long periods of time when atmospheric CO2 remained unchanged, while air temperature dropped, as well as times when the air's CO2 content dropped, while air temperature remained unchanged or actually rose. Hence, the climate history of the past half-million years provides absolutely no evidence to suggest that the rise in the air's CO2 concentration will lead to significant global warming. The last 30-40 years could be different, but there are still some important questions that need to be explored (see further). Of course there is the precautionary principle when there are indications for taking action. I certainly agree with that. But we also have to accept that there are climate scientists who feel that we could be (partly) wrong in this temperature / CO2 issue, and that there are still important questions that need to be explored. As a scientist, I cannot ignore this.
What about N2O and CH4 from livestock sector ? much more active greenhouse gases than CO2..
Following the film "An Inconvenient Truth", many people pointed their fingers at transport, light bulbs, etc. as the main culprits for global warming. However, Al Gore completely "forgot" to mention the far most scientifically recognised significant contributor of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
Meat consumption ! Yes, the livestock industry emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. Globally, the livestock sector contributes 18 percent (7.1 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent) of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Although it accounts for only nine percent of global CO2, emissions it generates 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and 35 percent of methane (CH4) emissions, which have 296 times and 23 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2 respectively. Methane emissions mostly occur as part of the natural digestive process of animals (enteric fermentation) and manure management in livestock operations. Methane emissions from livestock are estimated at about 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, accounting for about 80% of agricultural CH4 and 35% of the total anthropogenic methane emissions. Nitrous oxide emissions are associated with manure management and the application and deposition of manure. Indirect N2O emissions from livestock production include emissions from fertilizer use for feed production, emissions from leguminous feedcrops and emissions from aquatic sources following fertilizer application. The livestock sector contributes about 75 percent of the agricultural N2O emissions (2.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent). Carbon dioxide emissions from the livestock sector are related to fossil fuel burning during production of fertiliser for feed production, the livestock production process, processing and transportation of refrigerated products. Furthermore, livestock are a major driver of the global trends in land-use and land-use change including deforestation (conversion of forest to pasture and cropland), desertification, as well as the release of carbon from cultivated soils. The overall contribution of CO2 emissions from the livestock sector are estimated at 2.7 billion tonnes of CO2.
An example: If all Americans ate no meat for 1 day a week (which would be quite easy for everybody), this would result in the same carbon savings as taking 19.2 million cars off the road in the USA for a year long ! They would save 99.6 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. Something to think about...
See more at "Meat the truth".
Livestock production also impacts heavily on the global environmental through the use of natural resources (mainly land and water) and the emission of pollutants. Among main pollutants, are organic matter, nutrients, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals, pesticides and fertilizer from feedcrop production. The sector also generates almost two-thirds of anthropogenic ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. In addition, the livestock sector also poses a threat to the global biodiversity. The most important mechanisms of biodiversity loss and, more generally, ecosystem service changes are habitat change (e.g. deforestation), climate change, overexploitation, and pollution. Pasture and crop area expansion into natural habitats, intensification of feed production for livestock, pollution of water, air and natural habitats affecting species and ecosystems as well as overfishing exploitation are some of the impacts that livestock production exerts on biodiversity. At the same time, livestock production is a cause of land degradation through overgrazing, expansion of pasture and feedcrops into natural ecosystems. Grazing land for livestock and cropland used for feed production occupy one-third of the earth’s entire earth’s land surface.
Anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation
With the explosion in radio and TV broadcasting stations, radio telephone networks, mobile phones, the density of high frequency (modulated) fields around you is now many millions of times higher than natural levels. The same applies to extreme low frequency fields (ELF) produced by the dozens of electrical appliances in households in the industrialized world and the power lines feeding those devices. Industrialized countries in North America, Western Europe and China emit so much electromagnetic energy that it can be sensed by satellites in space.
Recently, a new hypothesis was formulated, that the high increase of anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation could participate in global warming too, like the radiation from cell phones, cell phone and other transmission towers, ionospheric heaters like HAARP, power lines etc.
The DEMETER satellite project (partly) from the Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie de l'Environnement (LPCE) at the french National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) has the objective to investigate the ionospheric perturbations due to the seismic activity, and the global study of the Earth electromagnetic environment. Dr. Michel Parrot, the principal investigator of the DEMETER project, and others, have studied and published about the ionospheric effects of anthropogenic low frequency electromagnetic radiation from power lines and transmitters, and high frequency broadcasting stations (to some MHz frequencies). All the observations indicate that Power Line Harmonic Radiation (PLHR) influences the atmosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling. On one hand, non linear interactions between electrons and PLHR can participate in the precipitation of electrons from the slot region in the radiation belts, on the other hand, main part of the PLHR energy dissipates in the lower ionosphere and modifies the ionospheric currents. This problem now requires serious attention because the electrical power consumption is always increasing in the world. It was also found that the very low frequency fields from ground-based transmitters (used for radio-navigation and communications) can also have an influence. Their ionospheric perturbations include: the triggering of new waves, ionospheric heating, wave-electron interactions, and particle precipitation. At high frequencies (to some MHz but not in the GHz range), broadcasting stations utilise powerful transmitters which can also heat the ionosphere and change the temperature and the density. According to Dr. Parrot, all these wave dissipations in the ionosphere could participate to the global warming of the Earth because the change in global temperature increases the number of natural lightning discharges in the atmosphere. Then the supplementary lightning discharges produce more magnetospheric whistlers which could produce heating and ionization in the lower ionosphere. Furthermore, it is a feedback mechanism because two different processes could be involved. First, lightning is a source of NOx, and NOx affects the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Second, precipitation of energetic electrons by man-made waves may trigger other lightning discharges. It explains the importance of the study of such man-made waves (see the links below for more information).
The higher frequency radiation (900 MHz and more) from cell phone use and cell phone transmission base stations, cannot directly interact with the ionosphere. But maybe this radiation could also result in higher global temperatures due to other effects/interactions in the atmosphere ? There was a news item claiming that a group of fifty scientists in Columbia have revealed that the explosive application of mobile phones (and other man-made electromagnetic sources) can contribute to global warming, but I haven't seen confirmation of that news item.
The Swedish Institute of Space Physics have already proven that radio waves stimulate an ozone depletion mechanism and warned that global broadcast is a major public concern. Broadcast Theory reveals that there is indeed a connection between our historic use of broadcast frequencies and the global climate.
“The processes in this transition region connect the solar and magnetospheric effects with the atmospheric response which, in fact, determine space weather in the Earth’s environment. This region is also the part of the Earth’s atmosphere where electromagnetic radiation from natural sources such as lightnings, and artificial sources such as radio, TV and radar transmitters, exhibit resonance and other interaction phenomena. The impact of these natural and man-made effects on the Earth’s space environment are of major public concern. Controlled experiments using purpose-built radio transmitters have shown that non-linear interactions in the ionosphere give rise to noise-like secondary EM radiation. This radiation is particularly strongly excited when the frequency of the injected radio wave is near a harmonic of the ionospheric electron cyclotron frequency. Similar sideband structures are expected when radio waves from powerful broadcast stations propagate in the ionosphere.”
More information about this topic can be found on this interesting site:
www.broadcasttheory.com (soon back online with update): highly recommended for scientists
and another interesting site with a theory about satellites and global warming can be found at www.globalmicrowave.orgfree.com
There are also some serious indications that weather (and climate ?) modification is possible with some large military transmitters like HAARP, and that environmental warfare with these sophisticated electromagnetic weapons is already ongoing. Both the European parliament and Russian State Duma have expressed their concern for weather modification, environmental and human health, and even mind control.
The sun and cosmic rays
In 1997 the results of a parallel line of research indicated a more direct physical link between solar activity and climate (Svensmark and Friis- Christensen, 1997 [Journ. Atm. Sol. Terr. Phys., 59:1225-32]). This result was later refined with more and better observations and documented that even during the last two solar cycles there is a very good correlation between the solar modulation of the cosmic rays and the low altitude cloud cover (Marsh and Svensmark, 2000 [Space Science Review, 94: 215-30]). Several other published papers followed. Solar variations do have direct effect on important climate parameters. How large this effect may be on the global temperature is currently being investigated. Paleo-climate scientists have also found that the climate is hyper-sensitive to small variations in the activity of the sun.
Changes in the intensity of galactic cosmic rays alter the Earth’s cloudiness. A recent experiment has shown how electrons liberated by cosmic rays assist in making aerosols, the building blocks of cloud condensation nuclei, while anomalous climatic trends in Antarctica confirm the role of clouds in helping to drive climate change. Variations in the cosmic-ray influx due to solar magnetic activity account well for climatic fluctuations on decadal, centennial and millennial timescales. Over longer intervals, the changing galactic environment of the solar system has had dramatic consequences, including Snowball Earth episodes (link of study).
The IPCC states that the level of scientific understanding concerning the role of the sun, cosmic rays, water vapor and cloud cover, is still very low, and therefore they did not take this into account much in the models...
But there is of course no reason to neglect a contribution from man made greenhouse gases. The question is how much, and maybe there is a combination effect, or maybe another effect is much more important (see above). Only increased understanding (without preconceptions !) of the physical processes can give us the answer. And are we reducing the "most important" anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions enough ?
There is a danger in mainly concentrating the environmental issue on "climate and CO2".
Below is the view of Prof. Dr. Bas van Geel, paleo-ecologist and leading climate scientist at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (University of Amsterdam).
Dr. van Geel: “I think it possible that the theory that human dealings are the main cause of the current climate change will turn out to be some kind of collective delusion. However, I have nothing at all against a no-regret policy. There are good geopolitical reasons to restrict the use of fossil fuels, and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases will certainly improve the quality of the atmosphere. However, the credibility of science is at issue. It would not surprise me if solar activity turns out to be the most important factor determining our climate at present. We must take care that we don’t all run along with the wrong hypothesis. ” (click here for the findings of Dr. van Geel, in English or in Dutch).
Dr. van Geel is not alone in his view. There are many scientists which do not have the opinion of the IPCC. The general view among political decisionmakers seems to be that the science around the impact of humans on our climate is "settled". But this is not completely true. There are also at least some scientists which are cited in the list of +2500 contributing climate scientists of the IPCC that do not agree with the official conclusions of the IPCC. There is still a scientific debate. The controversial documentary "The Great global Swindle" makes this clear, in spite of the fact that there are some serious errors in this documentary (just like in the famous documentary from Al Gore, by the way). I defy everyone to see this film, original in English, and also a very interesting scientific debate about this film (in Dutch).
The problem is that during more than 15 years, climatology has become increasingly politicized. Scientists that pose critical questions are even seen by the public as heretics ! This is a very disturbing and even dangerous situation. It is certainly not the way of science. There also seems to be a distortion of a whole area of climate science because it has become a great industry in itself.
Some interesting links...
An Inconvenient Truth The famous VIDEO of Al Gore
and "The Meatrix" educative short animation VIDEO's
"Different" views on climate change
The Great Global Warming Swindle Controversial VIDEO but still very interesting
Scientific debate around "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (Dutch) 'Must see' VIDEO
Global Dimming VIDEO
More information about electromagnetic radiation, see the "EMR" pages on this site
The Gaia theory