Remember that big chart Al Gore used in his documentary? If not, here it is:
This chart shows the correlation of high global temperatures and high CO2 levels (though some have argued that if you look closely, you’ll see that temperature actually rises before CO2 levels rise, but we’ll leave that for another day.) More interesting to me is the presentation of the data itself, and particularly the x axis which includes the present year all the way back to 650,000 years ago.
Now, compared to the life of a human being, 650,000 years is a long time. In fact, modern humans have only been on earth for about 200,000 years, so not even a third of that chart includes human life.
But how long is 650,000 years really? Life began on Earth sometime around 2 billion years ago. 2 billion is a really long time. In fact, 650,000 fits into 2 billion 3,076 times over. So just take that chart of Al Gore’s and stretch it out another 3,075 times and you get the CO2 and temperature levels since the dawn of life.
Of course, the planet was around another 2.5 billion years before life even emerged. So that’s Al’s chart 7,690 times over. I don’t know how many football fields that is, but I bet it’s a lot. (Assuming Gore’s really big chart was ten yards long it would fit into a football field ten times. So that would be about 769 football fields, which is about 145 miles, which is about three quarters of the distance between New York and D.C. That’s a big freaking chart.)
But I digress.
I bring all this up because to me it’s important to have a good range when you’re making charts. It’s important to have data over a long enough space of time to form solid opinions about the results. For instance, the earliest well-documented ice age occurred from 850 to 630 million years ago. I mean, we’re still in an ice age, and have been for over 2.5 million years, or nearly four of Al Gore’s charts. And if we’re still in an ice age, then it just strikes me that Gore’s data isn’t showing nearly the full picture. Shouldn’t we see charts that show temperatures in and out of ice ages?
Isn’t there more to the story?
And yet, anymore, to be a bit cynical or have any doubts about anthropogenic climate change (or even about the widely accepted solutions to climate change) makes you a “traitor to the earth.” I just find that a bit absurd.