Saturday, January 28, 2012

Some Inconvenient Facts about Climate Change

One day, hopefully sooner than later, America will wake up and see that the “settled science” of climate change is specious.

Ginned up by environmental activists, promoted by that great scientist Al Gore, enshrined as dogma by the courts and regulators, climate change has very little to do with science.

I myself have no qualifications in the field, so I rely, as nearly all of us do, on the opinions of the scientific community.

At the very least, there is a division of opinion on the matter of climate change.

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal sixteen distinguished scientists signed an open letter to politicians.

They began:

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

The scientists move on to present us with some inconvenient facts. The first is that for the past ten years there has been no global warming:

Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now. This is known to the warming establishment, as one can see from the 2009 "Climategate" email of climate scientist Kevin Trenberth: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." But the warming is only missing if one believes computer models where so-called feedbacks involving water vapor and clouds greatly amplify the small effect of CO2.

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

And then there’s the matter of carbon dioxide. Ever since carbon dioxide was declared a pollutant, environmentalists and regulators have been doing their best to shut down industry and the energy grid.

What is the truth about carbon dioxide?  The scientists explain it so that even I can understand:

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

Later on the scientists consider the policy implications that derive from the fact that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

Speaking for many scientists and engineers who have looked carefully and independently at the science of climate, we have a message to any candidate for public office: There is no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. Even if one accepts the inflated climate forecasts of the IPCC, aggressive greenhouse-gas control policies are not justified economically.

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls. This would be especially beneficial to the less-developed parts of the world that would like to share some of the same advantages of material well-being, health and life expectancy that the fully developed parts of the world enjoy now. Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

Greenhouse gas controls stifle economic growth and make it more difficult for underdeveloped countries to emerge from poverty. They damage developing economies and produce more joblessness and poverty.

These are more things for environmentalists to feel proud of.


Bulldog said...

From what heard through the grapevine of our shared alma mater, Al Gore was not a great student of science.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Rumor has it that he wasn't a good student of anything else either. He seems to have skated along on privilege.

Dennis said...

Computer models are, in a large number of cases, GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out.) The models almost always fulfill the ideas of those who create them.
First one has to determine the subject and the attributes that are applicable. Since attributes are not all of equal value someone has to remove those that seem to have no real bearing on the results. The other attributes have to be weighted as to their importance.
Notice here at that every decision point a human being is determining these characteristics. The more complex the subject the more potential for bias. I have not covered half of the decision points involved, but it doesn't take a "rocket scientist to see, especially in the case of those who have money and prestige to be gained, the lack when the use of computer models are used to determine policies.
Maybe it has happened, but I have yet to see a computer model that can accurately predict the past. This include econometric, climate, et al. There is a reason why statistics is call statistical inference. I would posit that the very same reason that statistics are not allowed in courtrooms is the very same reason computer models should not.
Any scientist, or for that matter anyone else, that cannot have his/her ideas challenged is not very sure of their ideas or results. There is no such ting as "settled" science. Sadly life is a gradual progression of finding out how little one actually know or can be totally sure. One should always be skeptical of any scientist who would even state something like "settled science."