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Climate Change:

A Ball Of Confusion

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The Earth is swirling with controversy over global warming.
Amid The Printing Of Contrary Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Articles This Week, One Scientist Delves Into Realities Of Public Perception


By John Monahan
Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 3, 2012 — What a crazy seven days it has been for the climate change debate. Scientists from both sides of the issue took to the Wall Street Journal late last week and early this week to opine on the merits of the issue and what should be done about it.

But that’s just putting it nicely. What really happened is one side said the other was wrong — knowingly in an attempt to hide the truth — in pursuit of riches.

To say it even more bluntly, each said the other was the ‘real’ greedy liar.

First up last Friday were the skeptics. Sixteen of them signed off on the letter which opened by stating, rather mater-of-factly, that global warming has not occurred in the past 10 years.

“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,” according to the letter. “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.”

Moreover, these sixteen scientists, including Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne and Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator, went on to say that CO2 is also a victim of bad publicity. After all, plants need it to survive.

“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,” according to the letter.

Yup, that is right. CO2 is good and the planet is not getting hotter. That is the global-warming skeptic's position.

As can be expected, those statements riled up those who have been calling for action to mitigate climate change. The Wall Street Journal was barraged with comments and phone calls that they printed the statement from the 16 scientists. By Wednesday, 40 scientists who believe and are attempting to halt man’s input with climate change were allowed to refute the previous letter in the Wall Street Journal.

They started off by pointing out that some of the scientists are far from “experts” on climate change. Rutan, for example, is a hell of an engineer and promoter, but a climate change expert, not so much.

“You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science,” said the rebuttal signed by Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Eric Rignot, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Wolfgang Cramer, Professor of Global Ecology, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France and 37 others. “Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter. And computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.”

These 40 scientists who back the idea that CO2 and fossil fuels will lead to severe, accelerated heating of the planet, again pointed out that 97 percent of scientists feel that the data about fossil fuels is correct: the world is getting hotter than nature usually does it.

But a statement that was largely ignored in the press coverage from this most recent climate brouhaha was one that came from Dr. James Hansen, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. Hansen has been with NASA since 1981 and was one of the earliest scientists to call for governmental intervention to halt or reverse climate change.

He also released a statement last Friday, but it was completely overshadowed by the skeptical Wall Street Journal piece that appeared the same day. In his statement, Hansen, a trained scientist that pulled out all of the data to make his point, also went a step further and revealed the politics behind the science.

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