Global Warming Blog

This letter, signed by 16 prominent scientists was published on January 27th
in the Wall Street Journal. It explains the folly behind the Global Warming
scare very well.   

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A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to
consider what, if anything, to do about “global warming.” Candidates should
understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that
something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large
and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that
drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of
President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American
Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: “I did not renew [my
membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence
is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are
taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems,
social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss
whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe
behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

In spite of a multi-decade international campaign to enforce the message that
increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization,
large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr.
Giaever. And the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing
year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well
over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see
from the 2009 “Climategate” email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: “The
fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a
travesty that we can't.” But the warming is only missing if one believes
computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds
greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted
warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have
greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this
embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to
weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate
to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas,
exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the
biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse
operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to
get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2
concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant
varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the
great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the
increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Although the number of publicly dissenting scientists is growing, many young
scientists furtively say that while they also have serious doubts about the
global-warming message, they are afraid to speak up for fear of not being
promoted—or worse. They have good reason to worry. In 2003, Dr. Chris de
Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a
peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct)
conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate
changes over the past thousand years. The international warming establishment
quickly mounted a determined campaign to have Dr. de Freitas removed from his
editorial job and fired from his university position. Fortunately, Dr. de
Freitas was able to keep his university job.

This is not the way science is supposed to work, but we have seen it
before—for example, in the frightening period when Trofim Lysenko hijacked
biology in the Soviet Union. Soviet biologists who revealed that they believed
in genes, which Lysenko maintained were a bourgeois fiction, were fired from
their jobs. Many were sent to the gulag and some were condemned to death.

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue
become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever
resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of
its members to remove the word “incontrovertible” from its description of a
scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the
old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money.”

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government
funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow.
Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded
subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a
lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.
Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and
the privileges it brought them.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and
independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for
public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to
“decarbonize” the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate
forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not
justified economically.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William
Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a
policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas
controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the
world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material
well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the
world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on
investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come
with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

If elected officials feel compelled to “do something” about climate, we
recommend supporting the excellent scientists who are increasing our
understanding of climate with well-designed instruments on satellites, in the
oceans and on land, and in the analysis of observational data. The better we
understand climate, the better we can cope with its ever-changing nature, which
has complicated human life throughout history. However, much of the huge private
and government investment in climate is badly in need of critical review.

Every candidate should support rational measures to protect and improve our
environment, but it makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert
resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of
“incontrovertible” evidence.

Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the
Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of
Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of
the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University;
Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society; Edward David, member, National
Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences; William Happer,
professor of physics, Princeton; Michael Kelly, professor of technology,
University of Cambridge, U.K.; William Kininmonth, former head of climate
research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of
atmospheric sciences, MIT; James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia
Technical University; Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York
Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and
SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator;
Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk
Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi,
president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

Categories: KUSI