The Other Side of the Global Warming Story
Dr. Jay Lehr, science director of The Heartland Institute and one of the authors of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, delivered the testimony below to the Washington State Senate in January, 2014.
Prepared for the Washington State Senate
Among my studies in physics, has been the study of climate, present, past and future, ever since the 1970s when the popular press was warning of an advancing ice age, and on into the 90s when global warming took over with unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence and mathematical models. Models that are unable to calculate past temperatures when all the variables are known, or the future whether a year or 10 down the road. They continue to predict doom a century from now if mankind does not alter its proclivity to lighten man’s burden with inexpensive fossil fuel.
There are 117 mathematical models used by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess man’s impact on our climate. They do not agree with one another to any reasonable extent. If a single model could give a discrete answer with a high confidence level they would need only that one. But 117 separate groups of climatologists and mathematicians have come up with 117 model guesstimates which do not agree with each other. None has come close to calculating backwards in time what the temperature of the earth was when all the variables used in the equations are known as part of our historical record, nor have any models in existence the past 10 years been able to predict with reasonable accuracy what the earth temperature actually turned out to be 10 years forward. None have predicted what we know now, that the temperature of the earth has been stable for the past 17 years. Yet with all this complete predictive failure, the IPCC chooses to take an average of these 117 models and say today in their latest report that their confidence in these average model predictions has increase from 90% to 95%. This would be laughable were governments of the world not continuing to bankrupt themselves by significantly increasing the cost of their energy through attempts to avoid fossil fuels while continuing to spend tens of billions of dollars on carbon emission reduction and failed attempts at using wind power and solar power. This is so though no where on earth have these so called renewable sources of energy ever replaced a single conventional power plant as their intermittent availability requires 100% conventional power plant backup.
Production of the equivalent of a standard 1000 megawatt power plant, fueled by either coal, gas or nuclear material requires 300 square miles of wind turbines or 175 square miles of either fields of photovoltaic cells or mirrors to collect the sun’s energy. And yet the beat goes on to eliminate the aforementioned dependable energy sources while keeping wind and solar alive with massive government subsidies.
The subsidies will end eventually, perhaps in five to eight years, when our richness in inexpensive shale gas and oil will awake the public to the absurdity of subsidizing energy sources that the physical laws of the universe make impossible to harvest economically. The wind and solar farms will ultimately stand idle as monuments to the folly of the near religious faith in mathematical climate models. `
The media has promoted unwarranted fear and unmitigated arrogance as to man’s impact on his climate. I will attempt to set the record straight or at least level the playing field with some irrefutable scientific facts.
1 - While temperatures have fluctuated over the past 5000 years, today’s earth temperature is below the average for these past 5000 years.
2 - Temperature fluctuations during the current 300 year recovery from the Little Ice Age, which ended around the time Washington’s soldiers were freezing at Valley Forge, correlate almost perfectly with our sun’s changes in activity level.
3- The National Aeronautic and Space Agency (NASA) has determined that during the time the Earth was warming in the past century so was Mars, Pluto, Jupiter and the largest moon of Neptune.
4- We know that 200 million years ago when the dinosaurs walked the Earth, average Carbon Dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 1800 parts per million, more than four times higher than today.
5- If greenhouse gases were responsible for increases in global temperature, then atmospheric physics shows that higher levels of our atmosphere would show greater warming than lower levels. This was not found to be true during the 1978 to 1998 period of .3 degrees centigrade warming.
6- 900.000 years of ice core temperature records and carbon dioxide content records show that CO2 increases follow rather than lead increases in Earth temperature which is logical because the oceans are the primary source of CO2 and they hold more CO2 when cool than when warm, so warming causes the oceans to release more CO2.
7- The effect of additional CO2 in the atmosphere is limited because it only absorbs certain wave lengths of radiant energy. As the radiation in that particular wave length band is used up, the amount left for absorption by more of the gas is reduced.
8- While we hear much about one or another melting glaciers, a recent study of 246 glaciers around the world indicated a balance between those that are losing ice, gaining ice, and remaining in equilibrium.
9- It is amusing that the polar bear has become the symbol of global warming while its North American population has increased from 5000 in 1960 to more than 25,000 today.
Although the court of public opinion already weigh climate change as a very low economic priority, the media continues to uncritically accept and vigorously promote shrill global warming alarmism. The United States government budgets $6 billion a year for climate research supporting a growing industry of scientists and university labs that specialize in the subject of man caused climate change rather the search for evidence wherever it might lead. It all adds up to a significant institutionalization of the impulse to treat carbon as a problem.
Climate change is not a scientific problem that found political support. It is about eco-activists and politicians who found a scientific issue they feel can leverage them into power and control. The environment is a great way to advance a political agenda that favors central planning and an intrusive government. What better way to control someone’s property than to subordinate one’s private property rights to environmental concerns.
While the most extreme environmental zealots may be relatively few in number, they have managed to gain undue influence by exploiting the gullibility of many ordinary and scientifically untrained people, willing to believe that the planet needs saving from man’s excesses. Perhaps it is a psychological throwback to those earlier civilizations that offered human sacrifices to the gods, to assuage their sins and spare them from punishment in the form of drought, flood, famine or disease. There are certainly many parallels between modern environmentalism and religion.