Friday, February 02, 2007

Industrial vs. Agricultural - the albedo factor

When the "global warmers" tell the rest of us that man made pollution is having a dire effect on climate change, they always mean industrial pollution. Why so?

The industrial revolution started relatively recently and the industrial era actually coincides quite well with the period of time through which modern temperature measurements have been taken. So it has been a temporal coincidence that has allowed such inferences to be made about global warming.

But if we are going to blame current climate change on man-made influences (and I do not necessarily subscribe to this) then I believe we must embrace another far more important man-made influence on the planet. And that is agriculture.

Ever since mankind started to roam the planet and either graze or farm, the surface of the planet has been modified. The result of this modification has been a change in the planet's albedo or reflectivity to electromagnetic radiation. The net change in the planet's albedo probably can't be quantified through time but when you think of deforestation and the massive change in farming practices over several thousands of years, it is "very likely" that agricultural modification of the planet will have had a huge effect on the ability of the planet's surface to absorb or reflect radiation. Ah! Note the "very likely" qualification and how similar it is to the IPCC's recent statement about man-made pollution and global warming effects!

But there's more! Agriculture has also had a major effect on greenhouse gas generation. Cattle are known to be a major contributor of greenhouse gases!

So why do I bring all this up?

Well, the problem with the global warming thesis is that the scientists involved believe that they can isolate one cause and effect from among multiple causes and effects. They also seem to subscribe to the belief that climate change is abnormal and this is clearly incorrect. The one thing we can be sure of is that the climate on this planet of ours is always changing and the change is due to an inter-action of many, many variables.

Taking a look at the history of agriculture, it seems strange to me that no-one has tried to calculate the global effects of albedo change. And as far as I know there have been no models constructed to see what might happen with major albedo change. But then perhaps no-one wants to try?

So, I will end this entry on a cautionary note. For all the warm air emanating from the IPCC, consider where their interests lie and what they haven't done to rule out other considerably important potential effects on the planet's climate. But if you go too far down this slippery path, it soon becomes apparent that there are so many variables (many of them canceling each other out) to climate change that man has only nibbled at the edges. And any expensive effort to modify climate change will also be nibbling at the edges, perhaps with direr consequences.

And that is why we should not allow politicians to dominate the debate.


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