Contrary even to former Obama administration Energy Department Undersecretary for Science Steven Koonin’s admission that the climate change debate isn’t settled, there never really was one.
Koonin, who now directs New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, wrote a headlined Wall Street Journal Weekend Review story that was entirely right about thing however: “We often hear there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change . . . But as far as computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.”
Dr. Koonin is also correct in noting that the issue isn’t whether or not the climate is changing because “the climate has always changed and always will.” He points out that the main question remains to be about the relative importance of both natural and man-made influences which will effect energy and infrastructure policy decisions.
On this score, while he believes that humans can cause serious issues, “they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole”, whereas carbon dioxide emissions “directly shift the atmosphere’s natural greenhouse effect by only 1 percent to 2 percent.”
Still, there’s even very good reason to think that even this amount of human CO2 influence may be highly exaggerated.
He admits that “climate sensitivity," an estimate of warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, is no different, and no more certain than it was 30 years ago. Meanwhile, global sea levels rose at almost the same rate during the first half of the 20th century as today.
At the same time, Earth’s average surface temperature rise of 0.9 degree F over the last quarter of the 20th century has slowed over the past 16 years (many say longer), while human CO2 contributions have continually risen 25 percent. Koonin adds: “Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise.” He also observes that models showing Arctic ice melting over the past 20 years forget to note almost equal growth across Antarctica which is “now at a record high.”
Incidentally, global temperatures were just as warm, or even warmer, than now from about 1910 to 1945 when atmospheric CO2 levels were lower. And let’s also recognize that no respectable surveys show consensus among experts that global warming since the industrial revolution brought smoke stacks and SUVs onto the scene is either unusual or anything to lose sleep over.
So where do the famous “climate debate is settled” and “97 percent of all scientists agree about global warming” (aka climate change) statements come from? They can be traced to an endlessly reported 2009 American Geophysical Union survey consisting of an intentionally brief two question online survey sent to 10,257 Earth scientists by two researchers at the University of Illinois-Chicago, which asked two questions.
The first: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”
Few would be expected to dispute this. Thee planet began thawing out of the little ice age in the middle 19th century, predating the Industrial Revolution. (That was the coldest period since the last real ice age ended roughly 10,000 years ago.)
The second question: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?” So what constitutes “significant”? Does “changing” include both cooling and warming . . . and for both “better” and “worse”?
Which contributions? Land use? Deforestation? They were also not asked whether they believed the anthropogenic (human-caused) contribution was or might become sufficient to warrant concern or the adoption of stringent government regulatory policies.
Of the 3,146 who responded (a 31 percent return rate), only a small subset of just 77 (2.5 percent) were represented in the survey statistic. These are ones who listed “climate science” as their area of expertise and had been successful in getting more than half of their papers recently accepted by peer-reviewed climate science journals.
In other words, that “97 percent all scientists” referred to a laughably puny number of 75 of those 77 who answered yes.
Get that — of the 3,146 Earth scientists who responded, 98 percent of the cherry-picked 2.5 percent who were counted in the survey agreed that humans have at least some unspecified influence on climate! That’s really a ton of consensus!
In his Wall Street Journal article Steven Koonin wisely cautions: “Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.” He concludes that “any serious discussion of the changing climate begin by acknowledging not only scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future.”
Yes. Only when that happens will the real debate begin. One where Mother Nature will have the final word.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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