With the Obama administration calling for curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and the nation in the grip of the most severe economic downturn since 1929, it would seem prudent to re-examine the debate on the causes of global warming before tossing aside entire industries and technologies in favor of untried, and possibly infeasible and unprofitable, "green" technologies.
Wholesale acceptance of human-caused global warming does not, in fact, exist. Indeed, many scientists believe that the highly politicized global warming scare is one of the greatest scams inflicted on the planet. They hold it responsible for enforced political restrictions on legitimate scientific inquiry and dissent and feel that a deliberate attempt has been made to silence prominent atmospheric and climate scientists who offer legitimate criticism.
The Politicization of Global Warming
The politicization of global warming was at play in February 2007, when in response to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) citing human activity as the primary cause of global warming, syndicated columnist, Ellen Goodman, proclaimed global warming an unequivocal, alarming fact. Ms. Goodman, who holds no scientific credentials, exclaimed that global warming deniers were on par with Holocaust deniers.
A meteorologist with the Weather Channel, Heidi Cullen, subsequently recommended that the Meteorologist Seal of Approval be revoked for any meteorologists skeptical of the human causation of global warming. And although scientists are far from unanimous in their opinions of human responsibility for climate change, Oregon governor, Tel Kulongoski, went so far as to consider firing the state's climatologist for disagreeing with the U.N. conclusions.
Dr. James Hansen, a NASA climate scientist who pioneered the research on global warming and politicized the issue with Al Gore's widely debunked Academy Award-winning movie An Inconvenient Truth, has referred to skeptics as being guilty of "high crimes against humanity and nature." He has called for mass civil disobedience at the coal-fired capital power plant in Washington, D.C.
Voices of Dissent
Yet, much doubt exists over the IPPC climate change theory. Hansen's own supervisor at NASA claims that Hansen has "gone off the deep end" with insufficient evidence and has violated NASA policies by arguing against the agency's official position on climate.
Recently, a group of Japanese scientists from a government advisory panel publicly announced their disagreement with the IPCC report and declared that climate change is driven by natural cycles related to solar activity and has nothing to do with CO2 emissions. The climate modeling used to support claims of man-made global warming was dubbed "ancient astrology" by a program director for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology.
Skepticism over human-caused global warming was also raised as recently as February 25th at a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing hosted by Senators Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe. There, Dr. William Happer, Princeton University professor and former Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (1990-1993), presented some of his key findings on climate change. One of just four scientists invited to address the forum, Dr. Happer, who supervised all DOE work on climate change, is a climate crisis skeptic. In his presentation, he noted that 650 prominent international scientists, including both former and current IPCC participants, have challenged the claims made by the 52 scientists who authorized the U.N. panel's report. He also called CO2, a compound singled out by the IPCC as a major contributor to global warming, as, in fact, a beneficial compound essential for life on earth.
In his analysis of CO2 as a factor in climate change, Dr. Happer affirmed that CO2 is not a cause for alarm, as it is neither a pollutant nor a poison. Indeed, Happer argued that CO2 limitations, such as the 450 ppm (parts per million) standard recommended by the IPCC to "stabilize" CO2 in the atmosphere, will actually damage the environment.
According to Dr. Happer, the current warming period (which actually ended 10 years ago) began in 1800 following the close of the little ice age (1300-1650 AD), which was preceded by a Medieval Warm Period (800-1300 AD). Happer noted that the little ice age and the Medieval Warm Period were curiously omitted from the IPCC report and that the Medieval Warm Period was as warm or warmer than today. Clearly at that point in time, global warming had nothing to do with the burning of fossils fuels. Also, Dr. Happer explained that several warmings have existed over the last 10,000 years since the last ice age, thus confirming that climate change has occurred multiple times absent mankind's actions.
Furthermore, plants and our primitive ancestors evolved when atmospheric CO2 was 1000 ppm. This compares to our current level of 380 ppm. Dr. Happer reported that higher levels of CO2 benefit the environment because they result in higher crop yield and more drought-tolerant plants. He cited a modern day example: greenhouse operations that are typically maintained at 1000 ppm. In truth, Happer said we are actually in a CO2 famine as most of the earth's CO2 levels throughout the planet's history have been at least 1000 ppm or higher. At these points in time, "the oceans were fine, plants grew, animals grew fine. So it's baffling to me that we're so frightened of getting nowhere close to where we started," he said.
Dr. Happer also cited examinations of ice cores from Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as further evidence of his claims. From that data, past temperatures and concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere can be determined. The findings indicate that first temperatures rose and about 800 years later, CO2 levels rose from the CO2 released from warmer oceans. This finding is in direct contradiction to the beliefs of global warming advocates who believe that higher levels of CO2 cause warmer temperatures.
The Fallacy of Scientific Consensus
Dr. Happer, who ironically was fired by Al Gore for disagreeing with his views on climate issues, cautioned the Senate committee members about the dangers of creating a crisis mentality and of demanding or aiming for consensus among scientists on climate theory. He observed that scientific breakthroughs and discoveries have never been determined by consensus, quite the contrary. As an example, he cited the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia when the majority of physicians wrongly believed in a bleeding cure for the disease. A few contrarians noticed that yellow fever victims were more likely to survive by foregoing these ministrations but were summarily ignored. Today, global warming proponents point to the rise in the incidence of malaria and yellow fever as evidence of the ill effects of rising temperatures. However, according to Dr. Happer and other scientists, this phenomenon has more to do with controlling mosquitoes than controlling temperatures.
The late Michael Crichton had this to say about scientific consensus, "Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. The great scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with consensus."
Dr. Happer maintains that the current climate crisis is a political creation that does not enjoy consensus but has the backing of the media, influential politicians, certain scientific societies and well-funded non-profit organizations. He cautions that climate warming dogma, absent critical analysis and the presentation of contrary data, is being taught in our schools along with the widespread viewing of the seriously flawed film The Inconvenient Truth.
Impact on Our Energy Supplies
Contrary to what the media and U.N. have portrayed, no evidence exists that today's climate changes differ qualitatively from in the past. In fact, not global warming but a slight cooling has taken place over the past 10 years which clearly negates the predictions of the IPCC models. As Happer concludes, climate alarmism is unrealistic and more a function of politics than scientific truths. His belief that climate change is driven by natural cycles rather than human activity is gaining currency against the hysteria of global warming doomsayers who want to institute ill-advised energy use and taxation programs that will alter our way of life and harm our economy unnecessarily.
Climate change alarmists continue to rail against our use of the conventional sources of energy that have contributed to our economy prosperity. They have amassed significant support in Washington for "cap and trade" taxation schemes and prohibitions on drilling and energy exploration. The United States should not yield to political pressure and penalize energy use in an effort to garner new taxes. Common sense and good science should rule the day and politicians should not let more than 2,340 global warming lobbyists in Washington, clamoring for "cap and trade" regulation, allow us to seriously drag down our already flailing economy. Our economic health and growth should not be sacrificed for an unproven theory that is fast loosing support from the scientific community.
Given the present administration's call for legislation to curb greenhouse gas emission allegedly in the service of climate control, the testimony of scientists like Dr. Happer warrants serious consideration.