It has to be said that the topic of Global Warming has been brought to the attention of almost everybody who has access to news, regardless of where they live on this planet. It has been debated ad infinitum for several years now and the main reason it is still on the front burner on a daily basis is because it has been disputed whether or not it is man made or a natural occurrence. While the scientific community is split on this topic, the group endorsing Global Warming as a Man Made reality has been the loudest in attacking those scientists and experts who do not agree with them. They have tried to convince us all that Global Warming is caused by mankind, no ands, ifs or buts about it, period! According to them, the doubters of man-made global warming are ignoramuses, idiots and are financially supported by big oil and other major polluters. They have therefore spouted that the debate about this topic is over and that it is time to proceed with action to save the planet before we irreversibly ruin life on Earth as we know it.
Since the media is in full agreement with this group, we hear disproportionate commentary on a regular basis. And then we read what Professor S. Fred Singer has to say and we have to ask: Why is he being attacked and his reputation maligned and distorted by people like Al Gore, Prince Charles of England and the rest of the global warming scaremongers? Let us ask other questions: If you wanted to build a house, would you go to your dentist to let him design it? Would you go to an Accountant to perform a root canal on you? We think not! We here at ‘Back to Common Sense’ firmly believe that it is shameful on the part of the Global Warming fanatics to demean true experts with many decades of experience in this field by just dismissing them as simply wrong! When it comes to making such a choice, we take the knowledge of a Professor Singer any day, any time over opinions of politicians, princes and others of their ilk that simply have an agenda and for that even ulterior motives even though their spouted concerns are to save the planet.
Now then, would it not be nice to encourage honest discussions among experts and scientists out in the open for everybody to follow? Is it too late to back off from the current hype and near fanaticism and bring common sense open debate back in order to find true solutions as to whether or not we, the human race, can realistically do something effectively or is it beyond our means? Have these questions been addressed or answered by anybody, we think not!
“Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural?” Part 2/2
S. Fred Singer
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Vir-ginia, a distinguished research professor at George Mason University, and president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. He performed his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University and earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences at the University of Miami, the founding director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service, and served for five years as vice chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. Dr. Singer has written or edited over a dozen books and mono-graphs, including, most recently, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.
The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on the Hillsdale College campus on June 30, 2007, during a seminar entitled “Economics and the Environment,” sponsored by the Charles R. and Kathleen K. Hoogland Center for Teacher Excellence.
Continuation from last week. …
Natural Causes of Warming
A quite different question, but scientifically interesting, has to do with the natural factors influencing climate. This is a big topic about which much has been written. Natural factors include continental drift and mountain-building, changes in the Earth’s orbit, volcanic erup-tions, and solar variability. Different factors operate on different time scales. But on a time scale important for human experience—a scale of decades, let’s say—solar variability may be the most important.
Solar influence can manifest itself in different ways: fluctuations of solar irradiance (total energy), which has been measured in satellites and related to the sunspot cycle; variability of the ultraviolet portion of the solar spectrum, which in turn affects the amount of ozone in the stratosphere; and variations in the solar wind that modulate the intensity of cosmic rays (which, upon impact into the earth’s atmosphere, produce cloud condensation nuclei, affect-ing cloudiness and thus climate).
Scientists have been able to trace the impact of the sun on past climate using proxy data (since thermometers are relatively modern). A conventional proxy for temperature is the ratio of the heavy isotope of oxygen, Oxygen-18, to the most common form, Oxygen-16.
A paper published in Nature in 2001 describes the Oxygen-18 data (reflecting temperature) from a stalagmite in a cave in Oman, covering a period of over 3,000 years. It also shows corresponding Carbon-14 data, which are directly related to the intensity of cosmic rays striking the earth’s atmosphere. One sees there a remarkably detailed correlation, almost on a year-by-year basis. While such research cannot establish the detailed mechanism of cli-mate change, the causal connection is quite clear: Since the stalagmite temperature cannot affect the sun, it is the sun that affects climate.
If this line of reasoning is correct, human-caused increases in the CO2 level are quite insignifi-cant to climate change. Natural causes of climate change, for their part, cannot be controlled by man. They are unstoppable. Several policy consequences would follow from this simple fact:|
Regulation of CO2 emissions is pointless and even counterproductive, in that no matter what kind of mitigation scheme is used, such regulation is hugely expensive.
The development of non-fossil fuel energy sources, like ethanol and hydrogen, might be counterproductive, given that they have to be manufactured, often with the investment of great amounts of ordinary energy. Nor do they offer much reduction in oil imports.
Wind power and solar power become less attractive, being uneconomic and requiring huge subsidies.
Substituting natural gas for coal in electricity generation makes less sense for the same reasons.
None of this is intended to argue against energy conservation. On the contrary, conserving energy reduces waste, saves money, and lowers energy prices—irrespective of what one may believe about global warming.
Science vs. Hysteria
You will note that this has been a rational discussion. We asked the important question of whether there is appreciable man-made warming today. We presented evidence that indi-cates there is not, thereby suggesting that attempts by governments to control green-house-gas emissions are pointless and unwise. Nevertheless, we have state governors calling for CO2 emissions limits on cars; we have city mayors calling for mandatory CO2 controls; we have the Supreme Court declaring CO2 a pollutant that may have to be regu-lated; we have every industrialized nation (with the exception of the U.S. and Australia) signed on to the Kyoto Protocol; and we have ongoing international demands for even more stringent controls when Kyoto expires in 2012. What’s going on here?
To begin, perhaps even some of the advocates of these anti-warming policies are not so seri-ous about them, as seen in a feature of the Kyoto Protocol called the Clean Development Mechanism, which allows a CO2 emitter—i.e., an energy user—to support a fanciful CO2 re-duction scheme in developing nations in exchange for the right to keep on emitting CO2 un-abated. “Emission trading” among those countries that have ratified Kyoto allows for the sale of certificates of unused emission quotas. In many cases, the initial quota was simply given away by governments to power companies and other entities, which in turn collect a windfall fee from consumers. All of this has become a huge financial racket that could someday make the UN’s “Oil for Food” scandal in Iraq seem minor by comparison. Even more fraudulent, these schemes do not reduce total CO2 emissions—not even in theory.
It is also worth noting that tens of thousands of interested persons benefit directly from the global warming scare—at the expense of the ordinary consumer. Environmental or-ganizations globally, such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund, have raked in billions of dollars. Multi-billion-dollar government subsidies for useless mitigation schemes are large and growing. Emission trading programs will soon reach the $100 billion a year level, with large fees paid to brokers and those who operate the scams. In other words, many people have discovered they can benefit from climate scares and have formed an entrenched interest. Of course, there are also many sincere believers in an impending global warming catastrophe, spurred on in their fears by the growing number of one-sided books, movies, and media coverage.
The irony is that a slightly warmer climate with more carbon dioxide is in many ways bene-ficial rather than damaging. Economic studies have demonstrated that a modest warming and higher CO2 levels will increase GNP and raise standards of living, primarily by improving agriculture and forestry. It’s a well-known fact that CO2 is plant food and essential to the growth of crops and trees—and ultimately to the well-being of animals and humans.
You wouldn’t know it from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, but there are many upsides to global warming: Northern homes could save on heating fuel. Canadian farmers could har-vest bumper crops. Greenland may become awash in cod and oil riches. Shippers could count on an Arctic shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific. Forests may expand.
Mongolia could become an economic superpower. This is all speculative, even a little face-tious. But still, might there be a silver lining for the frigid regions of Canada and Russia? “It’s not that there won’t be bad things happening in those countries,” economics professor Robert O. Mendelsohn of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies says. “But the idea is that they will get such large gains, especially in agriculture, that they will be bigger than the losses.” Mendelsohn has looked at how gross domestic product around the world would be affected under different warming scenarios through 2100. Canada and Russia tend to come out as clear gainers, as does much of northern Europe and Mongolia, largely be-cause of projected increases in agricultural production.
To repeat a point made at the beginning: Climate has been changing cyclically for at least a million years and has shown huge variations over geological time. Human beings have adapted well, and will continue to do so.
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The nations of the world face many difficult problems. Many have societal problems like pov-erty, disease, lack of sanitation, and shortage of clean water. There are grave security prob-lems arising from global terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Any of these problems are vastly more important than the imaginary problem of man-made global warm-ing. It is a great shame that so many of our resources are being diverted from real problems to this non-problem. Perhaps in ten or 20 years this will become apparent to everyone, par-ticularly if the climate should stop warming (as it has for eight years now) or even begin to cool.
We can only trust that reason will prevail in the face of an onslaught of propaganda like Al Gore’s movie and despite the incessant misinformation generated by the media. To-day, the imposed costs are still modest, and mostly hidden in taxes and in charges for electricity and motor fuels. If the scaremongers have their way, these costs will become enormous. But I believe that sound science and good sense will prevail in the face of irrational and scientifically baseless climate fears.