Global warming: Inconvenient questions

The 'settled science' of climate change ... isn't settled.

Register editorial writer

In March, NASA scientists spotted a region on the sun they expected to be calm but instead was, "a bubbling mass of swaying and arching spikes, some more than 5,000 miles long causing huge temperature flares," as reported in Investor's Business Daily.

Now a short quiz: The Earth recently has experienced a little bit of global warming, and by the way, so has Mars. What's the common factor?

A. Sport utility vehicles

B. Fossil fuels

C. Al Gore

D. The sun

Answer: D, the sun. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany noted that the sun has been burning more brightly for the past 60 years, which they calculated would account for the entire increase in Earth's temperature during that period. "[R]esearch suggests that for the large part variations in global temperatures are beyond our control and are instead at the mercy of the sun's activities," said a study by researchers at Duke University and the Army Research Office in June, 2003.

Nevertheless, we are hysterically warned that manmade global warming makes "it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet's habitability for human civilization," according to former Vice President Al Gore.

"[I]t's a question of survival," said Gore. "It's a moral issue."

In 2001, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hyped its global warming study, claiming disaster loomed over the next century and that the culprit could very well be manmade carbon-dioxide emissions. We ought to do something, the IPCC report urged.

This year, IPCC revised its dire forecast, substantially softening the outlook. But the IPCC became even more insistent about man's culpability. Curiously, the less-dire predictions became reason for more a passionate demand that we must take drastic corrective action. Immediately.

If the outlook has gotten less severe, why has the remedy gotten more drastic?

The global warming scare machine gathers momentum. Last September, before the most recent IPCC forecast, intimidation to quash dissent went into high gear. "The next IPCC report should give people the final push that they need to take action, and we can't have people trying to undermine it," said a Royal Society of London statement, essentially demanding global warming critics should shut up.

Why the resistance? Consider some motives. Could it be because Europe's attempts to force cuts in CO2 emissions have failed dramatically? After 10 years, nearly every Western European nation is producing more not less CO2, but at considerable additional economic cost due to the Kyoto Protocol's Draconian regulations. Could it be because since peaking in 1998, the average global temperature has decreased, not increased? How much of that trend can alarmists risk before people wonder why reality doesn't match the scare story? Could it be because federal funding for global warming research is undermined by skeptics who point out holes in the theory?

Perhaps, global warming proponents are aggressively pushing their agenda for fear the public will shrug off their claims as bogus, and politicians will be unable to justify a heavy hand. Quick, act now before the problem disappears entirely! Windows of opportunity don't stay open forever. Just 30 years ago the environmental-governmental conglomerate was convinced we were irreversibly on the road to the next Ice Age.

What we do know is that the global warming bandwagon is a convergence of those who stand to gain control (government), those who stand to profit (government-financed researchers), those who see profiteering and control as inevitable so position themselves to get their share of the pie (big corporations) and, of course, ideologues who worship everything green (radical environmentalists). For good measure throw in a superficial media's insatiable appetite for disaster stories, emotive Hollywood celebrities and opportunistic politicians, and it's a formidable coalition, indeed.

As President Eisenhower presciently warned in his farewell address: "Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever-present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite."

Despite what you may hear from self-interested scientific technological elites, global warming occurs naturally. Historically it has been as beneficial as it has been detrimental. Man's contribution to it today is somewhere between small and insignificant. Hurricane activity hasn't been linked to global warming, and there are fewer of them since 1970, anyway. Seas won't rise 20 feet. Grazing cows create more greenhouse gas than your SUV. But that's not exactly the party line of global warming alarmists.

Let's examine some global warming issues: the alleged scientific "consensus" that manmade CO2 is a threat, the computerized models forecasting the threat, the science they are based on, the solutions being advanced and some possible motives.


"It is sheer fantasy to suggest that a huge majority of scientists with expertise in global climate change endorse an alarming interpretation of the recent climate data," climate physicist S. Fred Singer, a research professor at George Mason University, writes in his book, "Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years."

Although it's generally conceded that industrialized societies add to atmospheric CO2 levels, whether it has an adverse environmental effect continue to be vigorously debated within the scientific community.

Computerized climate models

In his book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming," Christopher C. Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, reveals "the dirtiest secret of all regarding climate models: When we attempt to test them, they fail miserably." Computer models are only as good as the data entered in them.

Add bias to this imperfect picture. The IPCC previously generated 24 different computer models with a vast range of predictions. The Clinton-Gore administration cherry-picked the two models with the hottest and wettest predictions to illustrate the global warming threat. The worst of the worst.

Even so, climate models are so unreliable they can't even "predict" what's already happened. Inputting known facts from past dates doesn't result in "forecasts" of the actual temperatures that occurred on those dates.

"It is scientific malpractice to use them," observes University of Virginia environmental sciences research professor Patrick Michaels. "I choose my words carefully here. If a physician prescribed medication that demonstrably did not work, he would lose his license."

Singer agrees: "The models have erroneously predicted a 20{+t}{+h} century surge in Earth's temperatures to match surging CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. It hasn't happened."

The science

Exhale. There. You've just polluted the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is an essential, natural substance for man, animals and plants. But thanks to the amateur scientists sitting as Supreme Court justices, carbon dioxide now officially is regarded to be a "pollutant." In reality, CO2's connection to global warming is not that it pollutes the atmosphere, but that as it collects in the atmosphere it prevents heat from escaping into space.

In theory, greenhouse gases of which man's contribution is about 0.28 percent trap heat close to the Earth. "The greenhouse effect must play some role," concedes Henrik Svensmark, director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research, Danish National Space Center. "But those who are absolutely certain that the rise in temperatures is due solely to carbon dioxide have no scientific justification. It's pure guesswork."

Singer, who makes the case for a "moderate, natural 1,500-year climate cycle" of global warming and cooling, says if greenhouse theory is accurate, the poles should have warmed several degrees Celsius since 1940. Instead, polar temperatures have fallen.

Moreover, climate scientists note that historically increases in atmospheric CO2 often follow rather than precede increases in global temperatures, belying the theory that the gas brings on warmer climate.

Even if CO2 were a global warming demon, could its effect be reversed? "There is no known, feasible policy that can stop or even slow these changes in a fashion that could be scientifically measured," according to Michaels.


"Control energy, and you control the economy," author Horner writes. The "Kyoto (Protocol) and its ilk seek to ration energy use." Even Kyoto's advocates admit its carbon emission cuts are only a "first step," despite the havoc they play on economies.

"There is no dispute at all about the fact that even if punctiliously observed, [the Kyoto Protocol]would have an imperceptible effect on future temperatures one-twentieth of a degree by 2050," Singer observes. Kyoto's effect on warming would be so minimal as to be measurably insignificant.

In Canada, similar efforts also have been costly and ineffective. A previously suppressed report by the Canadian government evaluating the effectiveness of spending $500 million since the year 2000 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases revealed the money largely was wasted, producing neither greenhouse gas reductions nor new, cleaner technologies.


"Scientists who want to attract attention to themselves, who want to attract great funding to themselves, have to (find a) way to scare the public and this you can achieve only by making things bigger and more dangerous than they really are," said Petr Chylek, professor of physics and atmospheric science at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, as quoted in the book, "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming."

"Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding," observed MIT Sloan Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen, who, incidentally, was one of the IPCC's contributing authors.

Dr. William Gray, professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University, a leading expert on hurricane predictions, says flatly: "Researchers pound the global-warming drum because they know there is politics, and money behind it."


If global warming doesn't really portend radical climate change, what will change if we adopt all the Draconian and expensive measures alarmists demand? You will pay more to get less, economic growth will be retarded, and government will control more than it does now.

"Be Worried. Be Very Worried" was Time magazine's global warming headline a year ago. There is reason to worry. But it has little to do with the slight increase in global temperatures we may experience over the next century.

If the world redirects its resources, taxes its citizenry and restricts its industries as alarmists desire, what will happen when the issue cools off, so to speak?

If warming gives way to cooling, as it always has in the Earth's history, will you get a refund of the new taxes you've been forced to pay? Will industries driven bankrupt be reestablished? Will the millions of persons in the Third World who died because they were denied the benefits that come with economic development be resurrected?

There is much at stake, economically, socially, and indeed, morally.

Contact the writer: mlandsbaum@ or 714-796-5025

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