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Counterpoint: Bryan's view

This is Part Two in a three-part series. See Part 1: The introduction and Adam's View or Part 3: Counter-Counterpoint: Jeff's View.

This is my reaction to the speech by given Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the floor of the Senate yesterday. In the interest of fairness, my political leanings fall between Democrat and Libertarian. I am a huge proponent of civil liberties and a moderate on economic issues. I favor the protection of the environment, but understand the need to create an economic force to do so. Anyhow, here is my addition to the current debate.

One of the ways alarmists have pounded this mantra of “consensus� on global warming into our pop culture is through the use of computer models which project future calamity. But the science is simply not there to place so much faith in scary computer model scenarios which extrapolate the current and projected buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and conclude that the planet faces certain doom.

For the record, I would suggest that we can predict weather trends up to ten days in advance. However, climate models are notoriously rough. You will never find me supporting a global circulation model's forecast for shifts in large-scale climate regime shifts. However, I do see their value in forecasting climate trends based on the frequency of intensity of weather phenomenon such as hurricanes. If you run today's forecast models for huge periods of time and see shift in the distribution of storms when you change parameters, I think that at least qualitatively these results have value.

If the alarmists truly believe that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are dooming the planet, then they must face up to the fact that symbolism does not solve a supposed climate crisis. The alarmists freely concede that the Kyoto Protocol, even if fully ratified and complied with, would not have any meaningful impact on global temperatures. And keep in mind that Kyoto is not even close to being complied with by many of the nations that ratified it, including 13 of the EU-15 nations that are not going to meet their emission reduction promises.

Many of the nations that ratified Kyoto are now realizing what I have been saying all along: The Kyoto Protocol is a lot of economic pain for no climate gain.

And a little further down...

Furthermore, if your goal is to limit C02 emissions, the only effective way to go about it is the use of cleaner, more efficient technologies that will meet the energy demands of this century and beyond.

Kyoto is not the answer. It is not even a drop in the bucket. I think that if as a global society we decide to address the issue of climate change, then we need to do it on an economic scale. The first step should be to establish a carbon dioxide cap and trade system much like the one we have in place for sulphur emissions. Then later down the road we can ratchet down these controls once the structure is in place. Despite what any corporate-money-fed politician will tell you, industry will comply if there is a financial penalty for not doing so.

The media endlessly hypes studies that purportedly show that global warming could increase mosquito populations, malaria, West Nile Virus, heat waves and hurricanes, threaten the oceans, damage coral reefs, boost poison ivy growth, damage vineyards, and global food crops, to name just a few of the global warming linked calamities. Oddly, according to the media reports, warmer temperatures almost never seem to have any positive effects on plant or animal life or food production.

I'll take this one! Yes, insect populations (including mosquitoes) will grow. Plant life should grow too. As for heat waves, if you warm the climate you will get more heat waves. I can't even begin to explain how obvious that one is. As for threatening the oceans, did anybody say that global warming is going to somehow threaten the existence of the oceans? Now, damage to coral reefs is nearly certain. Coral grows in very narrow bands within specific climate conditions. Any changes to these conditions will most certainly be harmful. However, do we care? As for food production, we have no idea. It certainly could help food production in areas like Russia and Siberia. However, a bigger threat to food production is the fact that we pump groundwater at a rate much faster than rainfall replenishes it. Water tables across much of the world are dropping and it does not take a scientist to tell you that if you pump water out faster than it goes in, you will run out.

In addition, something that the media almost never addresses are the holes in the theory that C02 has been the driving force in global warming. Alarmists fail to adequately explain why temperatures began warming at the end of the Little Ice Age in about 1850, long before man-made CO2 emissions could have impacted the climate. Then about 1940, just as man-made CO2 emissions rose sharply, the temperatures began a decline that lasted until the 1970’s, prompting the media and many scientists to fear a coming ice age. Let me repeat, temperatures got colder after C02 emissions exploded. If C02 is the driving force of global climate change, why do so many in the media ignore the many skeptical scientists who cite these rather obvious inconvenient truths?

Oh my... Why did the Earth come out of the Little Ice Age (LIA)? Better yet, why did it enter the Little Ice Age? It is hard to ignore the correlation with the Maunder minimum in solar activity. Also, I have heard proposals that post-LIA warming is due to methane emissions from rice cultivation in southeast Asia. Methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2 and could be responsible for warming at that time. Also, yes, aerosol emissions during the mid 20th century present a very adequate explanation for the cooling during that time. Solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface dropped as much as 10% in some areas! These findings have been confirmed by a variety of sources and are becoming increasingly accepted in the scientific community. Adam and I are both big supporters of the theory of global dimming.

In refuting something from Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth, Sen. Inhofe makes this claim:

He claimed the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note, that is only true of a small region and the vast bulk has been cooling and gaining ice.

Adam's reply to this was right on point. The Antarctic ice sheet is growing vertically and shrinking laterally. Because the air of Antarctica is becoming warmer it is able to transport more water vapor to the ice sheet. This leads to more snow and a thickening of the sheet. However, the sheet is melting from the sides. Also, please do not think that this means that there will be no sea level rise. In fact, the vast majority of projected sea level rise comes from the thermal expansion of water, not melting ice.

Now, as for the hockey stick: Yes, the original "hockey stick" was flawed. Michael Mann, a Yale alumni from my department, who now works at Penn State created a huge uproar when his graph was used as the cover of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Mann's statistical methods were inaccurate, too heavily counting tree core records. Specifically, there were some tree ring records from California that were an especially large influence. However, the findings have since been corrected and now do a much better job at showing the LIA and other features. Like many things, the first model of this chart has design flaws but later models did a much better job.

Oh, and a couple parts that Adam did not mention. When talking about Al Gore's movie, Inhofe said:

He erroneously claimed that ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is disappearing due to global warming, even while the region cools and researchers blame the ice loss on local land-use practices. ... He insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming that most sciences believe does not exist.

Mt. Kilimanjaro's ice cap is not disappearing due to warming temperatures at the summit. Instead, the ice cap is disappearing due to a lack of snow at the summit. However, the cause of the lack of snow at the summit is not well understood. There is a definite chance that it could be linked to global warming, however, I am not well read on this subject. As for the hurricane link, I am very well read in that field. I am not sure that the majority of scientists believe that there is no link between hurricanes and global warming. Certainly that number is true if you ask the scientists at the National Hurricane Center or Hurricane Research Division. However, both of those groups are part of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration which is part of the Department of Commerce, where is part of the Executive branch headed by George W Bush and Dick Cheney. Just remember where you pay checks come from, and don't drink the Kool-Aid. "Ohhh, yeah..."

Go back to Part 1: Introduction and Adam's View or forward to Part 3: Counter-Counterpoint: Jeff's View

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