The Science of Measurement with Particular Emphases on Climate Change


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What average temperature is the Earth supposed to be at right now? We know, from our recordings of temperature for approximately 150 years, that the Earth is in a warming trend. The Earth however has experienced warming trends before. So to what extent is the current warming trend different? To determine, we are left with the historical record from ice, rock, and trees.

Because of the variability in temperature estimated over the ages, we do not attempt to compare the global average temperature now with previous global average temperatures, but rather compare the change in global average temperature through time. To measure the degree of warming historically, scientists rely on a measure of the change in temperature relative to a global average temperature that is statistically calculated using monthly observations collected since 1880.

When we measure change, we have to reference a baseline. We assume that their is a temperature at which to assume equilibrium or zero change. We can’t measure anything without a reference point, whether it’s zero or zero change.

Take, for example, elevations of the land or sea. We only know the elevation of the land relative to the sea surface and vice versa. If one changes, so does the other. Elevation and distance are relative measurements. To measure either, we have to assume that our reference points are not moving. Fractions of our measurement units may not matter at the moment, but will if we come back after a period of time to duplicate the previous results. Also, the larger the measurement units, the greater our level of comfort with an off duplicate result. Also, there is no distance that is not subject to change. Everything is moving.

The absolute zero from which we measure temperature is not where temperature is absent but is the coldest “theoretical” temperature possible (the absence of heat). We also measure time from a theoretical “zero” that succeeds the absence of existence. Unless someone figures out how to decrease time, time will always be moving forward. It has a beginning and an end (or infinity). This is how we measure time. Temperature however can be either positive or negative relative to zero. This is by man’s design.

Temperature, elevation, and distance are relative measurements. Man developed relative measurements based on observed relationships. A foot became a foot. 360 became the days in a year and degrees in a circle, and 12 became the months in a year, hours in a day, and inches in a foot.  Zero degrees C is the freezing point of water. 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) is a comfortable temperature. (Maybe this should be zero). Extreme temperatures on either end or extremely uncomfortable or deadly. It can be either hot as hell or cold as hell.

This is not the case for concentrations, as in CO2 and dust, which are measured relative to an absolute zero where the substance is absent and quantifiable.

In quantifying changes in temperature over time, and comparing that with other changes, we are comparing relative measurements (temperature, sea level, time) with absolute measurements (CO2, dust). We know where zero is for the absolute measurements; we do not know where zero is for the relative ones, except maybe theoretically. Does the absolute zero temperature actually extend to the beginning of time when heat was completely and totally absent?

This would mean that before the beginning of time, when heat was absent, the temperature started out at about -273 degrees C (or -459 degrees F). Again, this whole system of measuring temperature and time is by man’s design. We don’t know the beginning or the end.

The global average temperature now is on the order of 14.5 degrees C (or 58 degrees F), varying between -89 degrees C (-129 degrees F) and 57 degrees C (or 134 degrees F). According to the geologic record, it would have been about 1 degrees C (or 34 degrees F) warmer about 5.5 million years ago, varying between -95 and 168 degrees F. Click Here for more information on the actual data that supports natural climate change within the range of what should be expected.

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