MEETING # 1555
APRIL 27, 1995
Global Warming ? ?
by Myron J. Talbert M.D.
Assembly Room, A. K. Smiley Public
BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR
Myron J. Talbert M.D. was born on April 1, 1923, in Omaha,
· Undergraduate: U. of N. Dakota
· Graduate: M.D., Temple U. School of Medicine
· Internship: Madison General Hospital, WI
· Military: US Army, Orthopedic Surgery, 2 yrs
· Residency: Madison, WI, General Surgery, 4 yrs
· General Surgery, Redlands, CA, 1956, to Jan. 1990
Past Medical Organization Activities
· Chief of Staff Redlands Community Hospital, 1960-61,
· Chief of Staff, San Bernardino County Hospital
· Clinical Instructor in Surgery, SB County Hospital, 25 years.
· Assistant Professor of Surgery, Loma Linda Medical School
· Co-founder and general partner, Inland Surgery Center, Redlands
· President San Bernardino County Medical Society
· President San Bernardino Foundation for Medical Care
· President Tri-County Surgical Society
· Delegate to California Medical Association State Blue Shield Board, 6 years
· One of the founding members of the Redlands Racquet
Club, and third president
· One of the original members of the Redlands Swim and Tennis Club
· Kiwanis, 34 years
· Redlands Chamber of Commerce
· Forum Club of Redlands
· Member of the First United Methodist Church, where he served as usher and member of the
building committee for the present sanctuary
· Second president of the Redlands Art Association
· Song and dance man in all five "Fractured Follies" musical shows 1965-1963
benefiting Redlands Community Hospital
Sports and Hobbies
· Tournament winner in golf (low net) in San Bernardino
County Medical Society's annual event plus the winner in both tennis singles and doubles.
· Enjoys fishing, wood carving, and painting.
Wife: Harriet, well-known Redlands accompanist for the
Redlands Bowl community sings each summer, and for three Bowl musicals, and more than 24
Redlands High School musical, and the five RCH follies.
Children: Kathy Talbert Weller, Brooklyn, NY; Barbara Hardy? Santa Ana, CA; Nancy Talbert
Belk, Redlands, CA; Mike Talbert, Grand Terrace, CA
During Mike's childhood in Grand Forks, ND, his father,
Doctor G. A. Talbert, was a member of a Fortnightly Club and many meetings were held in
GLOBAL WARMING ? ?
GLOBAL WARMING ?? Ken Hubbard, humorist (1868-1930) amide "Don't knock the
weather' Nine tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once
in a while."
I had some misgivings when I decided to write on the subject of global warming' partly
because I certainly am not an authority on the subject and that feelings run high as to
how and if, we, as human beings, are affecting our environment.
In the late sixties and early seventies there were some studies that suggested that we
might be entering another ice age but about 1970 the opposite opinion arose (due to
concerns about the ozone layer) when the united States was considering the building of a
supersonic jet. It was thought by some that a catalytic reaction might take place from the
emissions from such a jet that would destroy thousands of ozone molecules and thus remove
some of this protection from ultraviolet rays and there-fore contributed to global
On October 19, 1987 Time magazine ran a story on the subject of ozone depletion. The
media then became involved.
After reading more on the subject I decided to try to separate scientific facts from
computer projected theory. I first read Trashing the Planets by Dixy Lee Ray who was the
former Governor of the state of Washington, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission,
Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. Bureau of Oceans and a long time member of the
zoology faculty at the Univeraity of Washington. She is a recipient of the United Nation
I then read "Global Warming" by Dr. Stephen H. SchneiderO He is a
cliaa-tologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The book was published
in 1989. The entire first chapter is devoted to describing dire climate changes resulting
from carbon dioxide build-up and because of man made polution the ozone layer is being
destroyed resulting in the penetrati. of ultraviolet rays which in turn enhances the green
He begins with a disclaimer stating "This chapter, while obviously fictional, is
meant to provide a feeling for what a year in the green house century might have in store
for us if nothing is done to deal with the growing problem of global warming."
He goes on to paint alarming scenarios:
1. Heat, smog, water shortages and raging forest fires in California.
2. The Great Lakes and the Mississippi river will run low exposing toxic sediments.
3. Emergency rooms in New York will be inundated with heat stroke victims.
4. He predicts due to melting of the artic and antarctic ice caps, there will be a rise
in the ocean level by several feet if the global temperature rises 2ø to 3. centigrade.
This will require the placing of dikes in New York at extensive costs. He says the next
two to three decades will determine whether or not he is correct.
Dr. Schneider's testimony along with that of Dr. Jim Hansen of the NASA Goddard
Institute supported by Senator Birth and the then Senator Al Gore together with an
exceptionally hot summer in Washington, resulted in Congress passing strong draconian laws
to restrict the use of chlorofluro carbons called CFC'so These laws affect us all because
it means we must eliminate the use of freon 12 (twelve) in our refrigeration and air
condi-tioners in our homes, offices as well as public buildings.
To give you an idea of the effect and magnitude of these restrictions' There are 100
million refrigerators, 90 million cars and trucks, 40,000 super market display cases and
100~000 building air conditioners. It will take 150 billion dollars just to replace the
refrigeration systems in ve-hiles such as trucks and railroad cars used to transport
food to markets.
Must we then go back to the use of toxic ammonia and the sulfur dioxide that we
DuPont and other companies would be glad to sell us new refrigerants which they hope to
develop and patent. There is some hope in this regard. A man named Holsknecht discovered
that four parts of propane and three parts of butane is a cheap and efficient refrigerant
but it, too, would require reworking of the refrigeration units. Ita main drawback
obviously is the extreme inflammability of the substance.
A substance called Suva, which is CFC 134 a, has been developed by DuPont but is not as
effective and furthermore will also be outlawed by these same regulations in the year 2000
not to mention the fact it is also hazardous to handle because of its toxicity.
There is agreement between the scientific factions on several facts. The use of the
term "greenhouse effect" is generally accepted. After all, without it we would
have a climate such as there is on the moon with daytime temperatures around 212ø F and
nighttime temperatures of~270ø F.
The greenhouse effect is due to a layer of ozone from 10 to 40 Km in altitude which is
the protective layer against penetration of ultraviolet ~rays. Only about 5 ~ of the
incoming solar radiation reaches the earth due to this layer. About 20-254 or so is
absorbed in the atmosphere and the remainder reflected back into space.
The layer is made up of water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, chlorine
and a few other lesser gasses. All of the gasses are produced by nature as well as by
humane. Carbon dioxide is one of the major ones. It is generally thought that the amount
of carbon dioxide released in the atmoa-phere is divided about equally between natural and
man made sources.
The natural sources come from the respiration of organisms, decaying vegetation,
volcanos, forest and grass fires.
Cows produce fifty million tons of hydrocarbons and methane per year. Methane also
comes from awampa, coal mines and rice paddies. According to -Di~, Lee Ray, fifty billion
tons of carbon dioxide and methane comes from the digestive activities of termites which
is ten times that of burning fossil fuels. Fossil fuels and respiration are the main
contribution of man to the carbon dioxide.
Scientists on both sides agree that greenhouse gasses are on the rise with carbon
dioxide accounting for some fifty per cent of the increase. The increase being estimated
at about ~ per cent per year O Here is where disagreement arises' whether carbon dioxide
is the cause of the anticipated global warming or not.
Both sides also agree that there has been about a 0.5. C increase in global temperature
over the past 100 years but given the increase in carbon dioxide, if that is the cause,
there should have been a rise of 2ø to 4ø C in that time.
It is true that taking the temperature of the planet is difficult and at best
questionable. Official temperature records in Europe were initiated in 1781 when the
Meterological Society of the Palatinate began to keep records. Historically, however,
climate has changed naturally even before the industrial revolution.
There was a warm period during medieval times as evidenced by the Vikings sailing
through the North Atlantic without encountering icebergs. They discovered Greenland which
was then truly green and not covered by glacial ice as it is nose AFter a few hundred
years of warming, a "Little Ice Age" occurred from 1450 to 1850 during which
time the Thames river froze solid up to London and the last time being in 1840.
In 1990 theU. S. Department of Agriculture put out its first revised hardiness report
since 1965 based on 14,500 records of different temperature measuring stations. The report
showed a movement of the limit of clangor of killing frost to be 100 miles south of what
it had been in 1965.
Both sides mention historic measurements of carbon dioxide by analysis of air bubbles
obtained by core samples in the artic and antarctic ice.
Carbon isotopes in tree rings as well as analysis of ocean sediment cores all indicate
carbon dioxide levels were around 260 to 280 parts per million at the end of the last ice
age some 10~000 years ago. The measurements of carbon dioxide varied as much as 205 as the
earth passed through the glacial and interglacial periods
It is true there is a 25 increase with levels amounting to 340 parts per million
due to carbon dioxide. This could be due to the use of fossil fuels but what explains the
much greater increases in the prehistoric past?
Both sides recognize there was a period of climatic optimum some 9,000 to 5,000 years
ago when the world temperature was thought to be 4. F warmer than the present. ~ second
little climatic optimum occurred from 800 to 1300 A. D.
In Scandinavia, Scotland and the high country of England and Bales, farming was
possible where it had never been before or since. There was then a fall in temperature
thought to be as much as 9ø F less in the 200 years from 1200 to 1400 A. D. This drop in
temperature brought hard-ships in the form of famine in northern Italy, black death and
finally bubonic plague which killed a third of northern Europe's people. From 1550 to 1700
the earth experienced the coldest temperature since the last ice age that is about 3. F
colder than the present.
In Schneider's book on global warming page 117-118, he admits according to computerized
studies there should have been twice as much warming in the last century. He explains
possible reasons for this error on overestimated trace greenhouse increases by twice the
actual amount. Competitive external forces such as volcanic dust, changes in solar energy
output and regional tropospheric aerosol from biological and industrial activity have not
properly accounted for. In addition, the large heat capacity of the oceans take up some of
the heating of the greenhouse effectO He discounts this in the long run but one must
remember that 73 of the earth is ocean and it is no small factors
He goes on to explain the error on the fact his models have been run based on
equivalent doubling of carbon dioxide and not on the 25% actually experienced Lastly he
says there is an incomplete and non-uniform network of thermometers which he feels has
underestimated the actual global warming over this past century. He then admits that Most
climatologists do not claim beyond a reasonable doubt that the observed temperature
records have been caused by the greenhouse effect."
There is an article in the February 1995 issue of Scientific American by Dr. Roger
Larson on the cretaceous superplume episode 120 million years ago in which microfosaile of
the Jurrsasic period were recovered from Grillings in the floor of the western Pacific
Ocean. This was thought to represent hard evidence of deep sea sediments and volcanic
rocks still in place from eons ago. These were thought to be from volcanic eruptions from
the ocean floor.
The ocean floor was canned to rise and in turn the sea level rose 250 meters above its
present level. The erupted molten lava released certain chemicals, including carbon
dioxide thus raising the world temperature some 10. C. He noted that reversal of the
earths magnetic field did not occur during that time. Reversals are frequent now which he
feels indicates a low plume activity. It would appear that the center of controversy is
the admitted rising of the carbon dioxide level at the present time associated with
depletion of the ozone layer.
Ozone, the substance in the "greenhouse layer", is O3. It is quite un-stable
and reacts to exposure to short ware ultraviolet rays converting back and forth to CO
(monoxide) and O2 oxygen. The layer is very turbulent changing frequently in thickness and
at certain times of the year has thinning described as a hole in ite The "hole"
appears in the Antarctic and is affected by severe storms and cold which occurs in the
spring of the year, which is October in the southern hemisphere. This lasts three to five
weeks as a rule.
Measurements of the thickness of the ozone layer have only been attempted for a few
decades. The~hole"was discovered about 1956. CFC's have been blamed as the cause of
the "hole" by Schneider as well as Sharon Roan in her book Ozone Crises".
On page 33 she says that CFC's were first developed in 192B but their use was not very
extensive until the sixties. The "hole" Seemed to grow in size during the
eighties and was larger in 1985. It was smaller in 1986 but was the largest in 1987. In
1988 they had trouble finding it and when they finally found it, it was only 15% as large
Chlorides from the CFC's were thought by Dr. Schneider to be the cause but Dr. Ray
states this has not been established. Sharon Roan reports findings by two researchers'
Rowland and Holing, also indicated the same increase in chlorides but it did not alter the
ozone layer. It was found that the chlorine oxide was in the stratophere rather than the
topisphere layer. This work was done using balloons. Rowland and Nolina believe that it
will possibly take 100 years for the build-up to occur and that is why there is no
significant change in the ozone layer now.
Using balloons in the stratosphere, Jim Anderson, a University of Michigan physicist,
found one part per billion of chlorine and chlorine oxide whereas the predicted level was
two parts per billion. However, in seven trials one returned a reading of eight parts per
billion. He did not have an explanation for it but surmised that it might have been a
meteor or gee from a passing rocket that caused the anomaly.
Both sides recognize natural effects from sun spots and volcanic eruptions but the
weight given to these events differs.
It is of interest to note that 289 billion Kg's of chlorine were spewed into the
stratosphere by the eruption of St. Augustine in Alaska in 1976. This was 570 times the
total production of chlorine and fluorocarbon om-pounds emitted in the entire year
in 1975. Other volcanos such as Mt. Erebus near McMurdo Hound and Mt. St. Helena all
contributed their share.
Schneider and others state that the increased ultraviolet exposure has caused increased
malignant melanoma, basal squamous cell carcinomas as well as blindness in sheep in New
Zealand and south Chili. The latter was found to be due to pink eye.
Although squamous cell Carcinoma and basal cell cancers are probably partly related to
ultraviolet exposure, the type of skin probably plays a large roles Helanoma, although is
definitely on the rise, probably is not as much related to such exposure. Although it
occurs in the warmer climates such as in Australia, it frequently affects the covered
areas of the body and is more frequent in indoor workers than outdoor workers. If
ultraviolet is the cause of this increase it is of interest to note that the National
Bureau of Standards referenced in "access to Energy" April 1989, vol. 16, #8
reveals from a network of measuring devices there was a 00 ~ to lolI decrease in the
amount of ultraviolet penetrating through the ozone layer to the earth.
In 1987 the United States signed the Montreal Protocol on Substance that deplete the
ozone layer. This binds us to penalties for use of CFC's such as Freon 12 and worse yet
the use of the effective fire fighting foam made with Halon. The latter must be eliminated
by the year 20000
Very little CFC's find their way into the atmospheres Disy Lee Ray's book
"Environmental Overkills reports that it has been discovered that CFC's are four to
eight times heavier than air depending on which one is studied and that the soil bacteria
destroys the CFC's within a few days to weeks. (Geophysical research Letters Vol 16, No. 7
In 1988, as previously mentioned, laws were passed to outlaw CTC's and Halon. An
exceptionally hot summer in Washington together with the testi-mony of Jim Hansen and
Senators Gore and Birth were strong factors. Dr. Hansen stated he was 99% sure that these
were the cause of the heat wave. Even Dr. Schneider thought he was a bit strong in his
estimate and went on to say "I noted that there are too many assumptions we could not
verify (such as the independence of one years temperature from the next) and things we
didn't know (how to correct for urban bias effect) to be able to assign meaningful
probabilities. Nevertheless I said I completely agreed with Jim.--The fact that I believed
the enhanced greenhouse effect was already present in the observed records was not the
same as proving it, which is why I preferred to use verbal rather than numerical
descriptions of its likelihood."
Most of Schneider's assumptions are based on supercomputer projections as are those of
Rowland and Molina. The December issue of the Reader's Digest had the following chart
which shows the computer predictions compared with the actual measurements of global
Going back to causes of the rising carbon dioxide level, deforestation with clear
cutting has been blamed. Burning of the lumber as occurs especially in South America
contributes even more to the carbon dioxide level.
An article by Margurite Holloway in July 1993 issue of Scientific American points out
these problems as relates to the Amazon rain forest in Brazil. The purpose of her
investigation was to try to meet the economic needs of the local people as well as the
Apparently the cutting of the forests with replacement with grazing land and crops has
not been successful because in a few years the land cannot sustain crops and is overgrown
by weeds that cannot be used for grazing. Lumbering is the major industry but much of the
wood is used for heating rather than building. Attempts at selective logging haYeni~been
successful because it is estimated that 27 small trees are destroyed for every one cut.
She states some 220 tons of carbon are released from each hectare of forest that is
burned. She states that tropical forest loss is estimated to have contributed one quarter
of the carbon released in the atmosphere during the past decades. She further claims that
the local climate and rainfall pattern will be changed as a result of this rain forest
In this country there was no attempt to regulate logging until 1920. Up to that time
the practices were thoughtless and wasteful. Since that time we have developed cutting
devices that can cut a marketable tree without damaging the surrounding trees. Tractors
with large tires are used so as not to damage the ground and even helicopters are
sometimes used to lift the logs out. Clear cutting has been decried by environmentalists
but according to a recent report by the Presidentts advisory panel on timber, it can be
done effectively without damaging the ground nutrients, soil erosion, wild life or stream
sedimentation. The douglas fir needs mineral soil and sunlight to reproduces The clear
cutting is done in a checkerboard pattern to allow enough sunlight for the seeds to grow.
Old trees metabolize more slowly and therefore remove less carbon dioxide by
photosynthesis than young trees. Young growing trees remove five to seven tons more carbon
dioxide per acre per year than old growth.
Have we really destroyed too many trees? N1SA recently published a report based on
images from 570 miles in space in which they stated there was extensive deforestation in
the Pacific NorthwestO These are computer en-hanced simulations of different wave lengths
of light reflected from the earths surface. They do not show 4 to 10 inch seedlings and
even 8 - 10 foot tall trees. American loggers have been since 1920 very responsible in
their management. They have planted 400 trees for every 83 that are cut.
In the United States the average annual wood growth is more than three times what it
was in 1920. Good management of leased public land according to a 1990 report from the
Bureau of Land Management in the past 30 years has re-sulted in an increase in the elk
population of 800 per cent, big horn sheep 435% and moose 500%. So it appears that the
animal life is beneficially affected by what is being done by the logging industry.
Another thought on the subject of global warming is expressed in "The Public
Interest" No. 118 winter 1995 by Thomas Gale Moore. His article "Why Global
Warming Would Be Good For You" points out that fluctuations in the carbon dioxide
level correspond to changes in the climate yet no one seems to be able to establish
whether the warming proceeded or follow ed the rise in the carbon dioxide level.
He addresses the effect of warming iB relation to how we live. Climate does affect
agriculture, forestry and fishing but factories, insurance, retailing, education and the
like are unaffected. Our vacationing habits might change and ski resorts could suffer but
the northern areas might then become more desirable vacation sites.
The warming also will lengthen the growing season and the associated increase in carbon
dioxide enriches the photosynthesis causing better growth.
He points out that geologic history reveals an increase in precipitation during the
times when the global temperatures were warmer rather than less as predicted by the
William Cline of the institute for international economics has calculated the cost of
cutting fossil fuel emissions by a third by 2040 would be 3.5/ of the world gross product
-- roughly 900 billion annually which would slow growth and impoverish some who survive on
Where does all of this leave us? I can only tell you my personal feelings.
Environmentalists have called attention to our planet and have done much good in pointing
out that we cannot carelessly waste our natural resources They forced the lumbering
industry into replacing the timber they cut and are forcing the automobile manufacturers
into cutting down on emissions that contribute to smog. On the other hand, we have tended
to throw the baby out with the bath water when we restrict and eliminate some vital CFC's
such as Freon and Halon at tremendous cost without proof that they are harmful to the
I think the oceans play a large role acting as a sink for carbon dioxide, sulfides and
chlorine. This area should be studied more. We can and should continue to try to cut down
on carbon dioxide formation even though the ocean may well be able to accomodate most of
the emissions. Remember con-verting to electricity sounds like the answer but it,too,takes
generations of electricity. Converting to nuclear energy to produce it is a possible
consideration. Don't forget electrical automobiles require batteries that have a high lead
content and must be replaced every two to three years.
Another thing we might do is to be more energy efficient as far as electri-city
consumption is concerned. We Could replace our light bulbs with energy efficient
fluorescent or tungsten halogen bulbs. The compact flourescent bulbs can be obtained at
Home Base or Home Depot but cost from $15 to $20. They last at least ten times longer and
usually draw about 75% less electricity thus lowering utility bills as much as $10 per
bulb per year.
Planting of more trees and vegetation in cities would be helpful in handling the
increased carbon dioxide in the cities where there is so much concrete. Third world
countries such as South America could be helped by following American lumbering practices
and also fertilization of the cleared land could well be improved.
Charles D. Earner, novelist (1829-1900) said' "Everybody talks about the weather
but nobody does anything about it". I suspect climate changes due to carbon dioxide
build-up based on computer models is not very accurate and trying to change the weather by
outlawing all CFC's is unlikely.
I would like to quote a statement by DrO Bernard Cohen, University of Pitts-burgh,
physicist and a distinguished nuclear scientist, page 187 in Evironmental Overkilll:
"Our government's science and technology policy is now guided by uninformed and
emotion-driven public opinion, rather than by sound scientific advice. Unless solutions
can be found to this problem, the U.S. will enter the 21st century declining in wealth,
power, and influence....The coming debacle is not due to the problems the
en-vironmentalists describe, but to the policies they advocate."
Finally, Mark Twain said, "Weather is a literary speciality and no untrained hand
can turn out a good article on it." (From Life on the Mississippi).