Global Warming: Why, When, and How

Donald R. Blake Department of Chemistry University of California, Irvine

Why should we care?
•  •  •  •  •  •  Sea level rise Change in climate Shifting ecosystems Stronger hurricanes Species die-off Ocean acidification (from CO2 increase)

Radiative Equilibrium

Solar and Terrestrial Radiation

What makes a gas a greenhouse gas?
Able to absorb infrared radiation •  Must have molecular vibration(s)
–  Excludes monoatomic gases like Argon

•  The molecular vibrations must be non-symmetric, i.e. infrared active
–  Homonuclear diatomic molecules only have symmetric vibrations. That’s why N2, O2 are not greenhouse gases.


Q: What about the other Greenhouse Gases & Aerosols?

Atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa Observatory

The average atmospheric mixing ratios of CO2 increased approximately 70 ppmv between 1958 and 2006.

Global Annual Methane: Average and Growth
14% increase in 30 years •  1568 ± 2 ppbv in 1980 •  1792 ± 1 ppbv in 2010 Average growth rate (1983-2010) •  6.3 ± 2.2 ppbv yr-1 Changing growth pattern •  Smooth in 1980s •  Variable in 1990s •  Slowing down in early 2000s •  Increasing in late 2000s

Q: Is the Observed Temperature Change Consistent with Greenhouse Gases ?
Climate Model Simulations

 (a) with only natural forcing (solar, volcanoes)  (b) with also anthropogenic gases and aerosols



Global Surface Temperatures 10 Warmest Years, 1861-2003
YEAR 1998 2002 2003 2001 1997 1995 2000 1999 1991 1990 TEMPERATURE VS. AVERAGE 1861-1910 °C °F 0.86 0.82 0.81 0.72 0.71 0.70 0.62 0.62 0.61 0.60 1.55 1.48 1.46 1.30 1.28 1.26 1.12 1.12 1.10 1.08

Dear UCI Chemistry Department Professors:

"It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist. •  So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it." - Hal Lewis, emeritus professor of physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

•  About two weeks ago, I wrote to one of your colleagues named as an addressee above. I asked for a short period of time in a UCI classroom where I could present to UCI science students what seemed to me to be a terribly misleading practice. •  Your colleague did not bother to respond to me. How many of you completely ignore a question from a student in your classroom? •  In my many years beginning with elementary school, through high school, college, and graduate school, I cannot recall one single instance of being completely ignored by any teacher, in any classroom.

•  Now, as a well-educated, well-traveled, well-read taxpayer, I get this rude treatment from someone who is responsible for teaching our youth. It is troublesome. I have but few points to make. First, it is misleading to give students and the public partial information, particularly when the clear intent is to guide them in the desired direction of a political agenda. This graph, or something very much like it, is so widely heralded as to be almost a trademark of the "Pseudoscientific Fraud" known as Global Warming:

Accurate, informative, purely scientific, who could possibly take issue with it? Me.

Now he wants to use full scale


However, insofar as anthropogenic carbon dioxide is said to account for something like 3.4% of the total, why don't we show that component instead of the total? Here is how that looks:


CO2 over the past 1000 years so how is it not anthropogenic???