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Why So Gloomy?

MSNBC – Newsweek – April 16, 2007

I haven’t read the printed copy of Newsweek yet (my motto is: Save A Tree – Read Online) but I assume this article is in the April 16 issue. Great article! Click through and read the whole thing or go to the news stand and buy a copy.

Mr. Lindzen, a meteorologist from MIT that is not funded by energy companies, argues that there may be global warming but that it doesn’t amount to the catastrophe that we have associated with it. He points out that the models are lousy at explaining what is really going on now let alone what will happen in the future. He also points out that we are coming out of an ice age which means that the temperature is going to go up.

I love the last quote from the original article and I have recreated it here as the final part of my editorialized excerpts.

Recently many people have said that the earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no compelling evidence that the warming trend we’ve seen will amount to anything close to catastrophe. What most commentatorsand many scientistsseem to miss is that the only thing we can say with certainly about climate is that it changes. The earth is always warming or cooling by as much as a few tenths of a degree a year; periods of constant average temperatures are rare.

The current alarm rests on the false assumption not only that we live in a perfect world, temperaturewise, but also that our warming forecasts for the year 2040 are somehow more reliable than the weatherman’s forecast for next week.

A warmer climate could prove to be more beneficial than the one we have now. Much of the alarm over climate change is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate. There is no evidence, for instance, that extreme weather events are increasing in any systematic way, according to scientists at the U.S. National Hurricane Center, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which released the second part of this year’s report earlier this month).

In many other respects, the ill effects of warming are overblown. Sea levels, for example, have been increasing since the end of the last ice age. When you look at recent centuries in perspective, ignoring short-term fluctuations, the rate of sea-level rise has been relatively uniform (less than a couple of millimeters a year). There’s even some evidence that the rate was higher in the first half of the twentieth century than in the second half.

Many of the most alarming studies rely on long-range predictions using inherently untrustworthy climate models, similar to those that cannot accurately forecast the weather a week from now. Interpretations of these studies rarely consider that the impact of carbon on temperature goes downnot upthe more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere. Even if emissions were the sole cause of the recent temperature risea dubious propositionfuture increases wouldn’t be as steep as the climb in emissions.

Various models predict that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will raise the world’s average temperature by as little as 1.5 degrees Celsius or as much as 4.5 degrees.

At present, the greenhouse forcing is already about three-quarters of what one would get from a doubling of CO2. But average temperatures rose only about 0.6 degrees since the beginning of the industrial era, and the change hasn’t been uniformwarming has largely occurred during the periods from 1919 to 1940 and from 1976 to 1998, with cooling in between. Researchers have been unable to explain this discrepancy.

Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn’t account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300.

The alleged solutions have more potential for catastrophe than the putative problem. The conclusion of the late climate scientist Roger RevelleAl Gore’s supposed mentoris worth pondering: the evidence for global warming thus far doesn’t warrant any action unless it is justifiable on grounds that have nothing to do with climate.

Read the online version of the article here or go to your news stand and buy the magazine.

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