TCS Daily

Science Panel Says: Global Warming, A Fiction Spurred by Politics

By Duane D. Freese - November 16, 2001 12:00 AM

Human burning of fossil fuels isn't the primary culprit of global warming. So said a group of four eminent scientists speaking to representatives from congressional offices, the Bush administration, think tanks and interested industries Thursday. Moreover, the level of such warming is not now alarming.

At a Frontiers of Freedom Forum conference called "Global Warming: Sound Science or Science Fiction?" held at the Heritage Foundation, Astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, John Christy of the Earth System Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia and German meteorologist Gerd Weber concluded that the big problem with global warming is the politics being played with the issue.

"The Earth's surface has warmed a bit," said Dr. Christy, who was awarded NASA's Medal of Exceptional Scientific Achievement for his work helping develop the global temperature data sets from satellites. "But in a way inconsistent with catastrophe," he added.

Christy is a lead author of the chapter about troposphere temperatures in the United Nation's reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He noted that temperatures in the troposphere above the surface layer aren't warming, even though they are supposed to according to theories of human induced warming.

"Climate always changes," Christy said. But the that weather people care about - tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, droughts - has not changed for the worse in recent decades.

Moreover, proponents of such accords as the Kyoto Protocol, which would require substantial reductions in human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), are essentially asking people to:

  • Pay 1.3 percent of their income for no tangible result
  • Tax themselves based on weather forecasts for 100 years in the future
  • Control something (CO2) that is not a pollutant, but helps things grow
  • Surrender sovereignty to unelected bureaucrats from other countries
  • Reduce access to energy, disproportionately hurting the poor

"Access to energy means longer and better lives for everyone," Christy said.

Dr. Michaels, who is state climatologist for Virginia and was program chair for the American Meteorological Society's Committee on Applied Climatology, took Christy's point further.

He noted that claims found in the reports of the UN IPCC that global warming would lead to a doubling of heat-related deaths had it backwards. That report was based upon a selective review of heat related deaths in some North American cities. A further review of that data, though, shows that heat-related deaths in those cities have declined, he said. And not only have deaths declined, but the difference in heat-related death rates for temperatures between 80 and as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit have disappeared.

What's happened, Michael said, is that use of energy for air conditioning has helped virtually eliminate heat related death. Raising the price of energy, as would be required to meet emissions reduction goals in the Kyoto protocol, would likely increase heat related deaths, he said.

Michaels also criticized the media for sensationalizing coverage about the Tuvalu tribe, which announced at Marrakech that it was leaving the islands in Micronesia where they live because of rising sea levels, which they blamed on global warming. Scientific studies of sea levels for their islands, Michaels noted, show sea levels have gone down over the past 50 years. " What happened was they wrecked their islands; they mined their sand to build buildings," he said.

Dr. Baliunas, who hosts Tech Central Station's Science for the Earth and is deputy director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, pointed to another distortion in the record in IPCC reports of temperatures. Those reports, she told audience members, show graphs with a trend line depicting a steady rise in troposphere temperatures of about 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18 degree F) over the past 44 years based upon balloon station measurements and, from 1978, confirming satellite data.

The only problem with such graphing is that it covers up a natural temperature change - the Pacific Climate Shift - that occurs every quarter century or so, she said. The temperature trend line before that shift was actually flat as was the trend line afterward, Baliunas noted.

She pointed out that the physics of climate change, if CO2 were the cause, would show increases in the troposphere temperatures. "But there has been no demonstration of human-made warming in the last 50 years," she said.

If such CO2 warming is occurring, Baliunas said, "the good news is ... it is slow." That means there is no reason to drastically cutback fossil fuel use in ways that would disrupt the economy, she said.

In the meantime, she is studying the effect of energy changes from the sun that show a high correlation to the change in surface temperature over several centuries.

Dr. Weber, who is the author of "Global Warming, the Rest of the Story," emphasized that the forecasts from global climate models that the UN has relied on for its forecast of future temperatures are based upon increases in human induced greenhouse gases that occur at double the observed rates.

Further, he noted that most of the surface warming that has occurred and which is forecast in the future would occur at night in cold, dry climates such as Siberia.

When asked why European countries are so adamant in their pursuit of cutbacks in greenhouse gases despite the lack of evidence of future catastrophe, Weber said: "They are just crazy in Europe. They are mostly Socialists"

He told the story of a conversation he had with a European Union politician, saying the politician told him:

"I as a politician don't care if global temperatures are increasing or that carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning is causing it. What, to me, is important, is that the public believes it. If the public believes two and two is five, then I will say it is five. I will do what they believe," he said.

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