I have the attached (albeit humorous) chart and am submitting in response to this chart. This rebuttal chart was actually posted just over two weeks ago, on this very Tumblr account! Anyway, onto the pithy part: the rebuttal.
True, thorough temperature studies only span the past couple hundred years. But we have data from other sources- ice cores, tree cores, geologic strata, the Milankovitch cycle (and other related cycles)- that allow us to construct a general trend that allow us some clue into what the Earth’s climate was like in the past, long before we could have ever personally taken temperature measurements. (Though maybe there’s a Neanderthal cave somewhere with some kind of tedious, well-kept temperature data on some invented scale, but barring such a discovery, we do with what we can.)
The trend that is constructed from this data is somewhat noisy and does have uncertainty. However, uncertainty does not mean that we throw our hands up and say “we don’t know exactly how this works, so we don’t have to take this seriously.” That’s not the way science is done. In science, we look at what we can say based on the data and report the limitations our models have. Other people can then look at our data, collect their own, add to our model, and improve upon it until we have an increasingly clearer picture about what is going on with what we’re looking at.
In the case of this particular subject, the model projected forward says that at the present day, we should be on a general cooling trend. However, we clearly are not. Global average temperatures continue to rise, and year-over-year, we continue to have record warm temperatures, increased frequency of severe weather, all the stuff that our climate models predict (more-or-less- again, there’s some uncertainty). We can see it more clearly if we super-impose the concentration of CO2- the major “greenhouse gas” besides water vapor- over top of global average surface temperature, as is done here. As you can see, as we get closer to the present day, the concentration of CO2 has risen beyond historical levels back 400,000 years, and the surface temperature- which should be descending, according to the rough “period” of the temperature curve- is actually increasing. (That graph is taken from NOAA’s ice core data- I think it’s by a guy named Vostok Petit, or something like that.) I think the correlation- while it doesn’t necessarily prove causation by itself- speaks for itself, by wiggling its eyebrows and nodding very suggestively.
Besides, we can see what happens when the concentration of “greenhouse gases” are too high when we look at the next-closest planet to our Sun: Venus. Its atmosphere is mostly CO2, and its surface temperature is 900 deg F. We will (probably) not face those kinds of temperatures, but left unchecked, the solar blanket we create by adding more CO2, more methane, and more water vapor (and other gases) into the atmosphere will warm the Earth. It’s not a question of “maybes,” it’s a question of “how long.”
Besides, suppose that EVERYTHING I just said is wrong, and that every climate scientist is completely off-base and that the Earth is NOT warming. All the steps that we would have taken- in our apparently false-delusion- to clean up our environment, promote better efficiency of electronics, power plants, vehicles, and so on, would have only been to our benefit. The only possible cost would be passed on to companies that had to reinvest in themselves to be more efficient and cleaner, but I believe that the overall return- whether there is warming or not- will far outweigh those costs.
Anyway, I’ll get back off my soapbox so we can go back to looking at more memes and wasting time on the internet.