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Point. Counterpoint. Countercounterpoint?

This is Part One in a three-part series. See Part 2: Counterpoint: Bryan's view or Part 3: Counter-Counterpoint: Jeff's View.

Since the tropics are quiet, Jordan has suggested that Bryan, Jeff and I discuss a speech by given Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on the floor of Congress yesterday. First, some background on Sen. Inhofe. As noted, he is a Republican senator from Oklahoma. To say that he might have bias toward oil companies might be an understatement. You can check out his voting record here. The ACLU doesn't like him. The Christian Coalition does. You can go here to check out how a bunch of different groups feel about the senator. Suffice to say, he is one of the more conservative members of the Senate.

Also, let me get my political affiliations out of the way, since you need to be able to figure out where my biases may lie. I am a registered Republican who is fairly unhappy with the party. I am certainly a fiscal conservative (lower taxes, laissez-faire government style), but a moderate on most social issues. You could probably describe me as a South Park Republican. My senses are somewhat close to Libertarians, although I am not an isolationist. In terms of global warming, my basic viewpoint is that the earth has been warming for the last 3 decades, at fairly quick rates, and the biggest (although not only) contributors to this warming are anthropogenic effects. I will most likely be taking the middle ground between Bryan and Jeff.

OK, now that the introduction is out of the way, hopefully I can avoid the politics for the rest of the discussion and stick to the science. I'm going to start with the things Senator Inhofe makes good points about, although you have to avoid the rhetoric in his speech.

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.

Sen. Inhofe makes a good point here. First of all, we can't forecast the weather farther than 5 days in advance. And I am supposed to believe a model that runs 50 years in the future? Also, Global Climate Models (GCMs) are woefully inadequate for addressing future climactic issues. Because they are run at low resolution (meaning the spatial distance that can be "seen" by the model), GCMs cannot resolve convection (or thunderstorms). Convection is one of the main ways the atmosphere transports heat. Without it in the model, the earth will grow unnaturally warm. Also, due to the spatial resolution, GCMs cannot resolve aerosols. Aerosols are tiny particles suspended in the air, from either natural or unnatural sources, that deflect sunlight back into space. Without their inclusion, more sunlight gets to earth, meaning the earth again is artificially warm.

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.

Sen. Inhofe is absolutely correct on these points. Kyoto makes for good press and good politics, but the science doesn't work out. Even if every country on the planet ratified Kyoto, there will still be a net gain of CO2 in the atmosphere. On top of that, Kyoto hasn't been ratified by China, India, or North Korea, three heavy CO2 producers. Without them, the treaty is fairly insignificant.

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.

Fact is, no one really knows what a warmer earth would look like. It could be negative, but it could also be positive, too. As poster Colorado_Bob pointed out on the messageboard, we are conducting an experiment that we cannot contain and with no control experiment. I'm not a big fan of conducting the experiment, but since we, as a species, are in the process, it should be pointed out that not all consequences of global warming could be negative.

So, Sen. Inhofe seems to make a pretty decent argument, right? Um, not so much. He fails in many other regards in explaining global warming. In fact, he inadvertently makes a case for global warming. Read on...

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?

There is so much wrong with this, I don't know where to begin. First of all, as anyone who has ever had a radiative transfer class can tell you, CO2 is a very important greenhouse gas. In the current atmosphere, infrared radiation (heat) can only escape the earth through a very small radiative window. That is, only certain wavelengths of radiation are not emitted back to earth by greenhouse gases, the most prominent of which is water vapor. This "window" is closed on a cloudy night, because water drops emit radiation at the wavelengths of the "window." That is why it remains warmer on a cloudy night than a clear night. Guess what else emits at those wavelengths? You guessed it, carbon dioxide. By adding CO2 to the atmosphere, more infrared radiation will be trapped at the surface, meaning the earth will warm.

Also, I think it is fairly well acknowledged that the cooling between the 1940s and 1970s is due to global dimming. Remember the aforementioned aerosols? The cooling effects due to increased man-made aerosols in the atmosphere reflecting sunlight outpaced the warming due to closing the "window." Now that we have cut a lot of emissions down through scrubbers, unleaded gas, etc., the warming has dominated. Hence, the temperature increase since the 1970s.

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.

Indeed, the vast bulk of the Antarctic has been gaining ice. I don't disagree with that at all. Unfortunately, this is something that goes along with global warming. You see, as the temperature rises, more water vapor can exist in its gaseous state. Since there is more water vapor, there are more clouds and more precipitation. Because the Antarctic is so cold, the precipitation falls as snow and adds to the Antarctic ice sheet. Only once the temperature in the Antarctic rises to levels that would cause more ice to melt than would be deposited by precipitation would we see the Antarctic ice sheet begin to decrease.

Finally, Sen. Inhofe rails against the "hockey stick" theory of global temperature change, proposed by then-Yalie, now-Nittany Lion Michael Mann. However, since the research was done at Yale and was changed at Yale, I'm going to let Bryan do some talking about that. I'm sure Jeff will have something to say as well.

I think I've set the record for longest text post for the site. I'm looking forward to hear what Bryan and Jeff have to say about the speech. I'll most likely have a response to their posts when they are done, and will be on the messageboard, should any of you folks like to chime in with your two cents. Stay tuned to the StormTrack for more.

Go on to Part 2: Counterpoint: Bryan's View or Part 3: Counter-Counterpoint: Jeff's View

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