The truth about global warming

When I first heard about global warming I thought “Great, I like warm weather.”  But then a friend who saw Al Gore’s movie told me that there are harmful effects, like flooding, so I went to see the movie.  I was impressed, but I also suspected that Gore might be exaggerating.  There seem to be lots of theories, predictions and speculations being bandied about, but a precious shortage of facts.  So I decided to do a little independent research (otherwise known as googling).  Here are four graphs that are “hard data” – a factual record of what has happened.  They are not “cherry picked”; they are the best, most authentic data I could find.  They are facts beyond dispute.  Look them over and see if they don’t change your mind, as they did mine.

GRAPH #1: GLOBAL TEMPERATURE.  The first graph is a historical record of average global temperature:

This was the first sign of trouble.  Yes,  there has been global warming, but look at the pattern.  There was an increase of about 0.4 degrees C between 1920 and 1940 when the world population was 1/3 what it is now, followed by a plateau from 1940 to 1975,  just when industrial activity was booming because of WWII.  Then there was another rise of 0.5 degrees between 1975 and 2000, followed by another plateau.  All in all, this is a very different pattern from our use of fossil fuels.

GRAPH #2: SOLAR ACTIVITY.   Then I found the following graph of solar activity and temperature:

                                            solar radiance correlation

Well look at that!  Until 1975 the change in temperature shows a better correlation with solar radiation than it does with carbon emissions!  Of course this still leaves the temperature increase between 1975 and 2000 which does correlate with fossil fuel emissions, but look at the following graph:

GRAPH #3: THE LAST 16 YEARS.  This graph shows the global temperatures during the last 16 years.  Each horizontal line represents a change of 0.1 degrees C.

During these sixteen years, with carbon emissions at their highest level and the CO2 level breaking through the 400 level, the average temperature of the earth has not increased!  If fossil fuel use is the primary factor driving the temperature, how can one explain this?  And how can one explain the plateau from 1940 to 1975 shown in graph #1?  There is only one possible conclusion:  Fossil fuel use may be one of the factors driving climate change, but it is not the primary one today.

GRAPH #4: SEA LEVEL.  Finally, let’s take a look at the historical record of sea level:

sea level 1800-2000Since 1850 the sea level has been rising at a rate of 7 inches per century, independent of carbon emissions.  More recent data below  ( shows that around 1993 the rate increased to around 12 inches per century.  This steady inexorable rise suggests to me that we have as much chance of stopping it as did King Canute.

THEORIES VS. FACTS.  In considering climate change, or any subject, it is important to distinguish between theories and facts.  The theories about carbon dioxide, ozone, etc., are only theories, and if they don’t agree with facts they must be discarded.  As a scientist myself, I know how many theories and assumptions have been proposed that later were found to be incorrect.  The above four graphs show that the theories on which the global warming alarmism are based are not consistent with the historical record.  Consider what a climate-change scientist, David Evans, said:

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office…  When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.  The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly?…  But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”  (I love that quote.)

An outstanding physicist, Freeman Dyson, whose opinion I would trust over a hundred mediocre scientists, looked at these theories and was less than enchanted:

My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. – Edge: The third culture

IS GLOBAL WARMING BAD?  Quite separate from the cause of global warming is the question: Is it bad?  Christopher Monckton (35 Inconvenient Truths) showed that Al Gore greatly exaggerated and even falsified the bad effects in his documentary.  And what about the beneficial effects?  Why are they ignored?  Glaciers may melt, but agriculture will be improved in many countries, and oil reserves in Greenland may become accessible.

WHAT CAN WE DO?  Even if global warming is bad and even if it is caused by carbon emissions, we must ask: what can we do about it?  Stop using fossil fuels?  I suspect that the resulting hardship would be much worse than any ill effects of global warming.  Anyway, we’re running out of fossil fuels – especially oil, so to the extent that they’re part of the problem, the problem will soon take care of itself.  Remember, there is no emergency; rates of 1 degree/century and 20 cm/century – even if doubled – do not pose immediate threats.


Posted by Rodney Brooks, Ph.D., physics, Harvard University 1963.  Please send any comments to  Rodney has also written a book that presents quantum field theory to the lay public and shows how it resolves the three great paradoxes of modern physics (click here).


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