Trucks at Work
Questioning climate change

Questioning climate change

If we don't understand what is natural, I don't think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural.” –Dr. Anastasios Tsonis, climate researcher at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee


Trucking needs to step up its presence in the climate change debate, especially now that more evidence is coming to light that the current global warming and cooling patterns we’re experiencing may not be so heavily driven by us humans as previously thought.

Let’s start with the recent study from the researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-Milwaukee). Scientists at the university used a math application known as “synchronized chaos” and applied it to climate data taken over the past 100 years.

In essence, using that formula should that the weather changes we’re experiencing are far more “natural” than many currently believe – meaning a lot of anti-global warming efforts, such as reducing power plant emissions via a “cap-and-trade” system, might not amount to a hill of beans in terms of their impact on the world’s climate systems.

[For a good explanation of how a “cap-and-trade” system works, check out the video below. Jeremy Symons, the National Wildlife Federation's Senior Vice President of conservation and education, provides a good, simple overview of how it might function.]

"Imagine that you have four synchronized swimmers and they are not holding hands and they do their program and everything is fine; now, if they begin to hold hands and hold hands tightly, most likely a slight error will destroy the synchronization. Well, we applied the same analogy to climate," said UW-Milwaukee Researcher Dr. Anastasios Tsonis.

His team’s analysis of the past century of climate data concludes that the air and ocean systems of the earth are now showing signs of synchronizing with each other. Eventually, the systems begin to couple and the synchronous state is destroyed, leading to a climate shift.

“In climate, when this happens, the climate state changes. You go from a cooling regime to a warming regime or a warming regime to a cooling regime,” he noted in a recent interview. “This way we were able to explain all the fluctuations in the global temperature trend in the past century. The research team has found the warming trend of the past 30 years has stopped and in fact global temperatures have leveled off since 2001.”


Tsonis believes the last climate shift point occurred in 2000 according to his data, said he thinks the current trend of steady or even cooling earth temps may last a couple of decades or until the next climate shift occurs.

This isn’t the first time the “orthodoxy on global warming” has been seriously questioned, either. Columnist Lorne Gunter with the National Post of Canada noted this in a story last October that the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly because “a funny thing is happening to global temperatures – they're going down, not up.”

He pointed to research by Brazilian Meteorologist Eugenio Hackbart that on Sept. 5 last year, areas of southern Brazil were recording one of their latest winter snowfalls ever and entering what turned out to be their coldest September in a century. Hackbart went on to explain that extreme cold or snowfall events in Brazil has always been tied to "a negative PDO" or Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Positive PDOs – the famed “El Nino” – produce above-average temperatures in South America while negative ones – La Ninas – produce below average ones.

Gunter added that Hackbart also noted periods of solar inactivity known as “solar minimums” magnify cold spells on his continent. So, given that August 2008 was the first month since 1913 in which no sunspot activity was recorded – none – and during which solar winds were at a 50-year low, he was not surprised that Brazilians were suffering (for them) a brutal cold snap. "This is no coincidence," he said as he scoffed at the notion that manmade carbon emissions had more impact than the sun and oceans on global climate.

Gunter also pointed to work by Don Easterbrook, a geologist at Western Washington University, that global cooling – not warming – is the trend our planet is facing. “It’s practically a slam dunk that we are in for about 30 years of global cooling,” as the sun enters a particularly inactive phase, Easterbrook said. His examination of warming and cooling trends over the past four centuries shows an “almost exact correlation” between climate fluctuations and solar energy received on Earth, while showing almost "no correlation at all with CO2 (carbon dioxide),” noted Gunter.


Michael J. Myers of Hilton Head, S. C. – an analytical chemist who works in spectroscopy and atmospheric sensing – is another global warming skeptic Gunter brought to light.

“Man-made global warming is junk science,” explained Myers, pointing out that worldwide manmade CO2 emission each year “equals about 0.0168% of the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration ... This results in a 0.00064% increase in the absorption of the sun's radiation. This is an insignificantly small number.”

Now, with all this in mind, do we just discard any and all efforts to reduce pollution of our air by factories, cars, trucks, boats, planes, etc.? No, not all.

What we need to do, however, is address how FAST we need to make changes – as in maybe the rapid nine-year emission reduction effort the U.S. trucking industry is in the midst of could have been slowed down a ways to reduce pre-buys and other economically damaging side effects. That may be the real lesson we learn if global cooling turns out to be the trend line we’re facing.