How much have humans contributed to climate change?

There has been a lot in the news recently about the climate and the Paris agreement, so I thought I would try to leave politics out of it and just find some facts! Now I am not a climate denier, I think the climate changes a lot. I think that people have something to do with it. You can’t put more and more people on the same piece of dirt and not have changes. So I started out at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.

NOAA claims to have been keeping track of the weather from 1880 to the present -137 years of weather record keeping. I was impressed with that, just think 137 years of accurate, reliable, record keeping!

Then I had to  stop and think.  This was before the first gasoline powered car was made.  Way before airplanes, and about eight decades  before the  first satellite  was shot into orbit. So I had to  raise an eyebrow  when I thought of the winter of 1880, in Alaska, going outside to read a thermometer, and how accurate that  might  be, made me pause.  But I’ll give them the  benefit of  the doubt.   So fact  one is that NOAA has been keeping weather records for  137 years.  How accurate and reliable those early readings were are up  for debate.

I heard a lot on TV and saw a lot of  print material that 2016 was the hottest year on record. But it was hard to find how much hotter it  was than, say, 2015. Then I found it – are you sitting down? – It was 0.07degrees F. That’s right folks, seven hundredths  of  one degree warmer than the prior year!  That’s fact two.  But that does not take into any account of the margin of error. After doing a lot  of  searching I found that NOAA’s margin of error is 0.14, that’s fourteen hundredths of one degree, which is pretty good, but  in this case the  margin or error is twice the amount they said the earth  warmed.

My next thought was how much has mother earth warmed? I know you can’t go by just one summer or one year you have to go back decades. Good old NOAA told me, they say, in part, that the average global land & sea temperature, in 2016, was 1.69 degrees F higher then the 20th century average. I hope you were still sitting down. That’s fact #3. I was a little disappointed, all this hoopla over, basically, one and a half degrees, and that doesn’t take into consideration the margin of error.

Fact #4 is that the good old USA spends tens of billions of dollars on climate change.

I was talking to one person about global warming and she got a little up set and said that she wasn’t talking about global warming she was talking about climate change, I thought “What’s the difference?” So I had to find out.

The very first sentence in Wikipedia under the definition of global warning is “Global warming, also referred to as climate change……” I found a lot of different definitions, but  basically they say that global warming is the rising of the Earth’s temperature because pollutants and  carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere .  They say climate change is a change in weather patterns due largely to the increased levels of carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. I’ll have to go with Wikipedia on this one, global warming and and climate change are one and the same. Fact #5.

Now my last thought was how much of this global warming did we cause? Now remember fact #3, that NOAA said the temperature in 2016 was 1.69 degrees above the 20th century average, hottest year on record . Then I looked at how much we caused, there are several causes of global warming but people say the main one is CO2, emissions from fossil fuel. Well I found that the EPA said in 2014 that the United States was responsible for 15 percent. In 2015 Wikipedia had the amount at 14.35 percent. Well to be generous I’ll use the EPA estimate. 15% of 1.69 equals 0.25. That’s right were responsible for raising the earths temperature by a quarter of one degree! That’s fact# 6, and my last.


Craig Martin,