January 29, 2012, The Wall Street Journal “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” Sixteen Deniers Authorities Delegate Delay – These 16 “scientists,” as the Wall Street Journal calls them, have published a letter that has some news for the readers of the WSJ. They tell us that our planet has not warmed for well over ten years… Which in itself is quite puzzling considering the all-time global high temperature records set in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
They also tell us that we have seen less warming than the IPCC predicted for the last 22 years. Since 2000 the rate has dropped off a bit, but this has been attributed to many different things including the cool phase of the Pacific Decadel Oscillation, the largest solar spot minimum in 100 years and more La Ninas than El Ninos. In addition, growth in China and India is higher than anticipated. Like the U.S. growth after World War II, when we had very few pollution controls, China and India are producing enormous amounts of aerosols. These aerosols were responsible for about 1.2 degrees of cooling across the planet as of 2008 and China and India barely felt the recession. The unexpected doubling of emissions in 2010 was also the product of this rapid growth along with its disproportionate load of cooling aerosols. Many of our top scientists are quite concerned that the next few years will see a large jump in global temperature. Myself, I am looking for the flip that has been discounted for about two decades now by climate scientists. This is purely a fictional “belief” on my part however as we had 90 days of 100 degree heat here in Austin last year and I may still be somewhat delirious from the heat.
More, the deniers tell us that the observation that the last few years including some of the warmest years on record no more implies future warming than record stock market highs imply a steadily rising future market. True, but when the stock market has been predicted to soar for decades because of rapidly increasing CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere, and when the reasons that the temperature has not soared include the great lag in response time of the equilibrium state of earth, oceans and ice sheets, well, the delayers argument sounds really flat and nasally.
But in addition to the numerous reasons that that the the temperature has not radically increased above the 1998 Super El Nino, and by the way, the Super El Nino was a huge departure much like the year 1900, 1915, 1926, 1944, 1953, 1981 and 1990. It took years and years for those trends to recover from those spikes. This is why weather, or decades of weather even, can not be compared to climate. After each of these spike years, eventually, in time frames much shorter than climate scientists use to determine climate trends, the temperature climb continued. It will do so shortly, as it has in each of the above cases. Only this time, because the forcing is so much larger, the changes are likely to be much larger when they resume. At least this is what the climate scientists say could be happening in their crystal balls.
As for the attempt by the nasally-sayers in this WSJ article to convince us that CO2 is not a pollutant? Same thing was tried with sulfur and nitrogen oxides and power plant emissions and tailpipe emissions when acid rain was out of control. Notice how we have regained control of acid rain because of NOx and SOx pollution rules? How about water pollution? Pre 1970, especially pre 1960, business and industry routinely dumped totally untreated waste into our waterways. There simply were no rules dedicating these untreated wastes as pollutants. (Geeze, back in the 18th century, everyone thought that “night air” was polluted with miasma. This miasma was blamed for all sorts of diseases like cholera, chlamydia and the Black Death. The word miasma comes from the Greek word for pollution.)
Then all the fish started dying in our rivers because the waters became toxic from the unregulated “pollutants” being discharged. Then the Cayahoga River caught on fire. Then President Nixon (a Republican btw) passed the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and started the EPA. then a whole lot of things were classified as pollutants that were never classified as pollutants before, like lead and cadmium and benzene, particulates (smoke and soot) and PCBs and nuclear waste and chloroflourocarbons, nitrous oxides sulfur dioxides and MTBE and noise pollution and temperature pollution and light pollution and visual pollution (billboards) and, and, and mercury and DDT and Chlordane. Now we have figured out that CO2 is a pollutant. It has nothing to do with its similarity to other pollutants as their nasally arguments attempt to justify — how similar is lead to DDT, or MTBE; or to noise pollution or nuclear waste or to smoke and soot? but I seem to have lost my train of thought. I was supposed to be dissecting this Wall Street Journal article.
Next: the letter says that the warmists have shifted their ploy to one that promotes weather extremes so that any old extreme weather can be attributed to climate change. There has actually been no shift. The projections of greater extremes in weather have been prominent in climate change projections for over two decades. The physics is simple. Warm the pot on the stove and convection currents increase (you can see it in the moving water, it gets faster and faster until it boils). Our atmosphere is no different than the pot on the stove except the convection current s in our atmosphere cause weather (and it’s not quite as warm). The stronger the convection current, the stronger the weather, regardless of it being water in a pot or gases in our atmosphere.
Then they try and proclaim that CO2 is not a pollutant. And they are correct. Chromium is a trace element vital to life in trace amounts, but in excess it causes cancer. The excess CO2 in our atmosphere put there by burning fossil carbon (we know this because it can be dated using carbon 14 dating) is about 100 parts per million. Normally, when earth’s atmosphere is in balance with its ocean temperature, we have about 280 ppm in our atmosphere. 250 ppm of gaseous arsenic inhaled for 30 minutes can kill a human outright. Long term exposure to a half a ppm of arsenic in mice causes anemia. A part per million by the way is equal to one drop in 14 gallons. Many pollutants are not pollutants at all and are vital to life, until a concentration threshold is croseed and those pollutants become toxic.
Next: Plants do better with more CO2 –True! Except when the CO2 is associate with warming and excess evaporation. The evaporation effect because of warming is so large that rainfall can actually increase while drought persists. This in combination with more extreme weather, which is associated with larger rainfall amounts, but falling at faster rates, meaning more rain runs off and less water soakes into the ground. But mostly, warming will cause less rain to fall. These are the general climatic conditions projected for the future across most of the interior of large land masses, aka the interior of continents. Scientists at NASA have already seen large parts of the northern hemisphere browning because of adverse climate conditions. Forests across the north are growing slower and they are sicker. Forest across the Rocky Mountain West are dying twice as fast as they were 50 years ago, and this does not include forest losses due to the great pine beetle pandemic. Now, scientists tell us the Amazon has already flipped from a carbon sink to a carbon source because of two great droughts since 2005. Billions of trees are dead. And right here in my backyard, our unprecedented drought last year is supposed to have killed a half billion trees as per the Texas State Forest Service. Carbon dioxide truly is a fertilizer in many plants under controlled conditions. Ever hear of Mother Nature being controlled?
This is getting tedious. Now they want to drag out the old “CO2 was ten times higher in Earth’s history” argument. Yep, right again. Except there were no green plants on land then. It was four times higher (about 1,000 ppm) at the most in the last 500 million years since plants colonized land and atmospheric oxygen was 2.5 percent (it is 21 percent now). Old science said that CO2 was 2,000 to 3,000 ppm back during dinosaur times or before. The latest science however says it was only about 1,000 ppm. But back then, the continents were arranged around Earth’s equator. Today most of our land mass is located in the northern hemisphere. This is a big deal when we have an earth that wobbles regularly on its axis. When one part of the earth is pointed more towards the sun, it tends to warm the planet more. This is the basis for the orbital cycles theory of climate change. It means a lot and when the continents were arranged along the equator. Earth’s equilibrium temperature was higher then. That is, we are likely living on a more delicately balanced planet today than in ancient times. And 1,000 ppm is likely where we are headed given our track record, not 2,000 or 3,000 or even 4,000 ppm CO2. We were supposed to have reduced emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by this year – 2012, as per Kyoto. Instead, emissions have risen 50 percent above 1990 levels.
Then there’s the big one about climate scientists and their ilk benefitting monetarily from the climate change lie. They say the alarmism benefits scientists and institutions by providing grant money. True, this money does help support academic institutions and it does help pay the salaries of scientists. But isn’t there a big industry revolving around medicine and federal grant money, and physics and high tech, and the really really big one, the military?
Let me quote from Dr. Nordhaus’s book review:
“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. This argument is inaccurate as scientific history and unsupported by any evidence. There is a suggestion that standard theories about global warming have been put together by the scientific equivalent of Madison Avenue to raise funds from government agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF). The fact is that the first precise calculations about the impact of increased CO2 concentrations on the earth’s surface temperature were made by Svante Arrhenius in 1896, more than five decades before the NSF was founded. The skeptics’ account also misunderstands the incentives in academic research. IPCC authors are not paid. Scientists who serve on panels of the National Academy of Science do so without monetary compensation for their time and are subject to close scrutiny for conflicts of interest. Academic advancement occurs primarily from publication of original research and contributions to the advancement of knowledge, not from supporting “popular” views. Indeed, academics have often been subject to harsh political attacks when their views clashed with current political or religious teachings. This is the case in economics today, where Keynesian economists are attacked for their advocacy of “fiscal stimulus” to promote recovery from a deep recession; and in biology, where evolutionary biologists are attacked as atheists because they are steadfast in their findings that the earth is billions rather than thousands of years old. In fact, the argument about the venality of the academy is largely a diversion. The big money in climate change involves firms, industries, and individuals who worry that their economic interests will be harmed by policies to slow climate change. The attacks on the science of global warming are reminiscent of the well-documented resistance by cigarette companies to scientific findings on the dangers of smoking. Beginning in 1953, the largest tobacco companies launched a public relations campaign to convince the public and the government that there was no sound scientific basis for the claim that cigarette smoking was dangerous. The most devious part of the campaign was the underwriting of researchers who would support the industry’s claim. The approach was aptly described by one tobacco company executive: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”
The cast of the WSJ letter:
Claude Allegre: French politician and geochemist published “the Climate Lie” with at least 100 errors. He believes the causes of climate change are unknown. More than 500 French researchers have asked the French Science Minister to “dismiss” Allegre’s book. He describes asbestos as harmless. The others include a professor of marketing, a pediatric physician, a former president of research and engineering for Exxon, a board member at the Geroge Marshall Institute, an electrical engineer, William Kininmonth; meteorologist science adviser to the Exxon-funded Science and Public Policy Institute, a member of the Exxon funded Heartland Institute Richard Linzen, a polymer chemist, former director of the Heartland Institute Rodney Nichols, former U.S. Senator Harrison Schmidt, a professor of astrophysics and featured speaker at the Heartland Institute, Henk Tennekes, former director of the Dutch Meteorological Service and featured writer for the Exxon funded Science and Policy Institute, and a nuclear physicist.
Meet the Wall Street Journal 16: http://drich13.newsvine.com/_news/2012/01/29/10263079-meet-the-wall-street-journals-16-climate-scientists
Norhaus, Why the Global Warming Skeptics are Wrong .