Letter: Mulholland, climate deniers
Letter to the Editor,
A column by Jon de Vos in the April 8 edition of the Sky-Hi News (I love Grand County reason #288) is another attack on the credibility of so-called “climate-deniers.” Mr. De Vos would do himself a favor by reading the scientific reports of those who do not accept AGW. The Heartland Institute provides an excellent resource to delve into the subject, and many of their reports may be downloaded for free.
Years ago I was asked by my adult children to view the 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth, that Al Gore made on the subject and tell them what I thought of it. It was a truly alarming report, and very convincing, but something about it did not feel right. I advised my children that I would withhold judgement until I learned more about it. Since then, I have concluded that AGW is a politically-motivated hoax promulgated by non-scientists, although there are certainly plenty of scientists behind it.
Let me explain. I am a geologist, trained first in the geology of the ice ages (Ph.D., UMass), and then in the geology of petroleum. The two disciplines are closely related with respect to climate change. The habitat of petroleum is closely tied to the rise and fall of global sea level, which has happened repeatedly since the beginning of life on earth about 600 million years ago. There are a number of proposed causes for this, but climate may have been involved. The waxing and waning of the four major ice ages of the Pleistocene period may have been triggered by climate cycles. Earth’s atmosphere has been warming, and sea level has been rising, since the last ice sheets melted 10,000 years ago. So, to me, global warming has been a natural occurrence on earth since long before mankind appeared.
My next reason to be skeptical lay the nature of climate studies. They come mostly from universities, and climatological studies are funded by government research grants. Now, if I were a climate scientist, and my job depended on funding from the government, it would be in my best interest to keep that money coming. If my climate research told me there was nothing unusual happening, the money would dry up. Instead, it would be best to find something alarming happening and request more money to continue research. So the “research” is necessarily biased at the outset.
The whole business began with the 1999 publication of the “hockey stick” paper by authors Mann, Bradley, and Hughes. Then two Canadian scientists, McIntyre and McKitrick, tried to replicate the analysis and were unable to do so, claiming there were errors in the original data set as well as in the analysis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created to resolve the controversy, but it was itself very biased. Next, advocates of AGW claimed the science was settled and any further criticism was improper. After all, 3000 scientists supported the IPCC findings! Except that the Heartland Institute quickly gathered signatures of over 30,000 scientists from many disciplines who disagreed. Clearly “scientific” findings are not proven by vote.
As more scientists began to study the issue, other objections came to light. In some studies, contrary data was rejected or “adjusted” to yield the desired result. Surface weather stations proved to be biased by historical encroachment of heat-generating cities. Atmospheric temperature studies showed no evidence of warming. Solar cycles and atmospheric moisture (a greenhouse gas) had been ignored in designing the computer models. Ice core data revealed that, historically, rising CO2 levels followed temperature rises, suggesting that global warming was the cause, not the effect, of rising CO2 levels. Meanwhile, global warming has ceased and temperatures have been relatively constant for eighteen years now. While the Antarctic ice shelves have, indeed, broken off, the thickness of the ice field at the South Pole has increased.
In summary, there is no consensus on AGW, there is plenty of valid scientific evidence to refute it, a little atmospheric warming would actually benefit mankind, and efforts to reverse-engineer an event that is natural, and may not even exist, would bankrupt any nation trying to do it while making AGW proponents immensely wealthy. It sounds more like greed than science to me. And please note, I am a skeptic, not a denier.
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