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Global Warming Hysteria Has Arrived

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Global Warming Hysteria Has Arrived

By Roy Spencer : 04 Apr 2006

On April 4, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to discuss a white paper that Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) released on a mandatory cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions. The majority of panelists that will provide testimony in the hearing are for a cap-and-trade program, suggesting the Committee views global warming to be a serious problem and that a cap-and-trade approach is the preferred mechanism for fighting it.

The hearing's timing couldn't be better, as it coincides with an intense global warming propaganda campaign by the media that is currently underway. The latest issue of Time magazine has a cover story on global warming entitled "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid". (I wonder if this is meant to provide some balance for stories about the coming ice age that Time published as recently as 1994?)

One of the new Public Service Commission's TV ads uses a freight train about to hit a little girl as a metaphor for the horrible impact of global warming on our children's future in just thirty years. (Even if the recent warming trend, since the 1970's, continues for another thirty years, global temperatures will only rise another 1 degree F.)

For those of us who are visual learners, Al Gore has a new global warming movie coming out in May entitled "An Inconvenient Truth" which no doubt will be met by critical acclaim, Oscar nominations (probably not for best actor, though), and a possible Nobel Prize.

Science magazine recently stuffed as many articles as it could find on the world's melting ice sheets, even though the bulk of the published temperature evidence shows no warming over Greenland or most of Antarctica in recent decades.

One wonders, what in the world is going on here?

It seems an undercurrent of anti-technology, anti-progress, anti-humanity sentiment is beginning to grip our culture. Al Gore has been giving very effective, impassioned speeches on the ecological destruction that mankind is unleashing upon Mother Earth. With a mixture of science half-truths and religious zeal, Gore is very successfully rallying thousands of people to his cause.

In an age where many of us believe that science has all the answers, while others believe that religion has all the answers, a clever mixture of science and religion can be very powerful. Even some of our scientists are joining in the chorus: NASA's Jim Hansen thinks we might have only ten years left before irreversible harm is done.

For any of these fears to have an objective basis in fact, one has to believe that the climate system is very sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I have read recent statements, even from the World Meteorological Organization, that CO2 is the "most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere," which is blatantly false. The warming effect of Earth's most abundant greenhouse gas, water vapor, is about ten times that of carbon dioxide. Water vapor amounts, even globally averaged, go through large fluctuations, with particularly large upward excursions during warm El Niño events. Yet, the climate system never spins out of control. Why is this?

The answer might reside in the fact that about 75 percent of the warming potential of greenhouse gases is never allowed to occur. Weather processes, in the form of clouds and precipitation, cool the climate to temperatures well below what they would otherwise be from Earth's natural greenhouse effect. To believe in catastrophic warming, one would need good knowledge of how clouds, and especially precipitation processes (which is how water vapor is continuously removed from the atmosphere), change with warming. I do not believe we yet have this knowledge.

Yet, the feeling persists that "we need to do something," even if the science isn't settled yet (indeed, the science might never be 'settled'). I would agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment if it were easy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is not. Until major technological advances are made, or people start embracing nuclear power again, carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, especially in India and China.

The Bingaman and Domenici hearing on April 4 is a distraction from the real debate this country (indeed, the world) needs to have about how to (or whether it is even advisable to) reduce carbon dioxide emissions now.

And more scientists who don't believe in predictions of climate catastrophe need to rise above their fears of losing funding and speak out. Otherwise, this growing storm of global warming hysteria could do some real damage.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA's Aqua satellite. He is also a member of the TCS Science Roundtable.

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~ Unfortunate.

~ A side point on all this GW hysteria: I believe that regardless (ironically) the media's general left-wing bias(es), Gore and his political ilk aside, were it not for the last couple decades' degeneration of 'news'-media's inclination toward sensationalistic-orientations (anciently called Tabloid Journalism a la National Enquirer), there wouldn't be such a 'hysteria' going on now.

~ Once celebrity (H'wood or politicians) scandals became popular, then with TV finding attractive any 'action' goings-on (fires, shootings, etc) for video re-plays ad infinatum, their bias towards anything alarmist was a ball that control-oriented politicians couldn't ignore using to whip up popular concern. H'wood has an excuse; our 1st-amendment dress-hiders don't; politicians never did since they've trampled the Constitution anyways.

~ But without our present 'media,' THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW would be just an interesting movie...and not a world debate.



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