Friday, March 23, 2007

Use reasoning, not rhetoric

In a recent guest opinion, the point I attempted to make was that despite all the rhetoric and media blitz, hard, scientific facts are incongruent with the concept that CO2 is the cause of global warming over the past century. These facts speak for themselves but are being ignored in the rush to accept CO2 as the culprit, and I had hoped that calling attention to them would cause others to think more deeply before embracing what has become a true dogma.

The two letters of response that followed missed the point entirely (neither addressed any of the hard geologic facts), but serve as examples of the substitution of rhetoric for reasoning. This is not about opinions. It is about scientific facts. I would invite the letter writers and others to consider the geologic facts and what they mean. The uncontested geologic facts are:

· The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that was just released, and earlier reports as well, contain no tangible evidence whatsoever of a cause-and-effect relationship between CO2 and global warming. Everything is based on the assumption that because both warming and CO2 have risen, CO2 must therefore be the cause of the warming. The logic of this empirical relationship is nonsense—if you observe that the moon is full when nights are clear, that doesn't mean that the moon causes clear nights.

CO2 is asserted to be the cause of warming over the past century, yet half of that warming took place between 1890 and 1945, well before CO2 began to rise sharply in 1945. Conclusion: Something other than CO2 caused at least half (and perhaps all) of the warming. CO2 emissions rose dramatically after 1945 and have continued. Yet, during the following 30 years, global temperatures dropped, rather than rose (as they should have if increased CO2 causes global warming).

At least 10 times in the past 10,000 years, global climates have warmed abruptly as much as 20 degrees in a few decades without any manmade CO2. Present global warming has only been about 1 Fahrenheit in 100 years. If in the past, something other than CO2 caused warming 20 times greater than present warming in a quarter of the time, it can certainly cause current warming.

Both letter responses claim that the recent report is the work of several thousand scientists and therefore can't be challenged, but they are apparently unaware that it was written by only 13 policy makers (Google Lindzen of MIT—"There is no consensus"). They can hardly claim to speak for the entire scientific community, which numbers hundreds of thousands of scientists.

The Bush administration apparently tried to censor government global warming reports, a truly despicable policy. However, CO2 proponents of global warming are doing the same thing and worse to silence nonbelievers by advocating firing any scientists who challenge CO2 as the cause of global warming (see, for example, the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen's call for de-certification of any meteorologists who express doubt of the manmade cause of global warming). In his book, Al Gore claims that only scientists paid by big oil companies and right-wing conservatives are doubters. This is the sad result of introducing politics into what should be a scientific issue.

The International Panel on Climate Change predicts global warming of up to 10.5 F by 2100, based on the assumption that it is caused by CO2. My own projection, based on 40 years of climate and isotope research, and firmly grounded on geologic data of climate changes for the past several hundred years, is less than 1 F warming in the coming century. In fact, global cooling of about half a degree should begin by 2010 and last until about 2040. Time will tell who is right. In the meantime, let us focus on the scientific facts and abandon the rhetoric and politicizing of the issue.

"Dogma is an impediment to the free exercise of thought. It paralyzes the intelligence. Conclusions based upon preconceived ideas are valueless. It is only the open mind that really thinks." (Wentworth, 1949)

Dr. Don Easterbrook


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