He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under the first President Bush. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is author of The Obamacare Disaster, from the Heartland Institute, and President Obama's Tax Piracy, and his latest book: America's Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb: How the Looming Debt Crisis Threatens the American Dream-and How We Can Turn the Tide Before It's Too Late.
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If you look at the record of global temperature data, you will find that the late 20th Century period of global warming actually lasted about 20 years, from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. Before that, the globe was dominated by about 30 years of global cooling, giving rise in the 1970s to media discussions of the return of the Little Ice Age (circa 1450 to 1850), or worse.
But the record of satellite measurements of global atmospheric temperatures now shows no warming for at least 17 years and 5 months, from September, 1996 to January, 2014. That is surely 17 years and 6 months now, accounting for February.
When the period of no global warming began, the alarmist global warming establishment responded that even several years of temperature data does not establish a climate trend. That takes much longer. But when the period of no global warming gets longer than the period of actual global warming, what is the climate trend then?
Even worse for the theory of catastrophic, anthropogenic (human caused), global warming is that during this now extended period of no global warming mankind’s emissions of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that are supposed to be predominant in causing global warming continued to explode, with one third of all CO2 added to the atmosphere since the industrial revolution occurring during this period. The Economist magazine shocked the global warming establishment with an article in March, 2013 that began with this lede:
Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO2 put there by humanity since 1750.
That one quarter is actually now one third since the industrial revolution, which is now increasingly at stake in this debate. We are not going to be able to power anything remotely like the modern industrial revolution, which is actually straining even now to burst out of the “Progressive” bonds holding it back (at least in America), using the wind sources that powered the Roman economy, plus dancing on sunbeams.
Moreover, the now extended trend of no global warming is not turning around any time soon. That increasingly established trend is being produced by long term natural causes. Even rank amateurs among the general public can see that the sun is the dominant influence on the Earth’s temperatures. Even the most politicized scientists know that they cannot deny that solar activity such as sun spot cycles, and variations in solar magnetic fields or in the flux of cosmic rays, have contributed to major climate changes of the past, such as the Little Ice Age, particularly pronounced from roughly 1650 AD to 1850 AD, the Medieval Warm Period from about 950 AD to 1250 AD, during which global temperatures were higher than today, and the early 20th century Warming Period from 1910 to 1940 AD.
That solar activity, particularly sunspot cycles, is starting to mimic the same patterns that were seen during the Little Ice Age, as I discussed in a previous column. As a result, outside politically correct Western circles, where science today has been Lysenkoized on this issue, there is a burgeoning debate about how long of a cooling trend will result.
Britain’s Met Office, an international cheerleading headquarters for global warming hysteria, conceded in December, 2012 that there would be no further warming at least through 2017, which would make 21 years with no global warming. The German Herald reported on March 31, 2013 regarding Russian scientist Dr Habibullo Abdussamatov from the St. Petersburg Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory, “Talking to German media the scientist who first made his prediction in 2005 said that after studying sunspots and their relationship with climate change on Earth, we are now on an ‘unavoidable advance towards a deep temperature drop.’” His colleague Yuri Nagovitsyn is quoted in The Voice of Russia saying, “we could be in for a cooling period that lasts 200-250 years.” Skepticism over the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is increasingly embraced in China and elsewhere in Asia as well.
In addition, every 20 to 30 years, the much colder water near the bottom of the oceans cycles up to the top, where it has a slight cooling effect on global temperatures until the sun warms that water. That warmed water then contributes to slightly warmer global temperatures, until the next churning cycle. Known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), these natural causes are also contributing to the stabilized and now even slightly declining natural global temperature trends.
The foundation for the establishment argument for global warming are 73 climate models collected by the UN’s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). But the problem is that the warming trends projected by these models are all diverging farther and farther from the real world trend of actual temperature observations discussed above, as I showed in a previous column, with another graphic. Because none of these models have been scientifically validated based on past temperature observations, they constitute a very weak scientific argument that does not remotely establish that the “science is settled,” and “global warming is a fact.” The current data discussed above establishes indisputably that global warming is not a fact today. The politicians seeking to browbeat down any continuing public debate are abusing their positions and authority with modern Lysenkoism, meaning “politically correct” science not established by the scientific method, but politically imposed.
The science behind all of this is thoroughly explained in the 1200 pages of Climate Change Reconsidered II, authored by 50 top scientists organized into the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and published by the Heartland Institute in Chicago. You will want to own this volume (or just the summary) if for no other reason than that it says here that future generations of scientists will look back and say this is the moment when we took the political out of the political science of “climate change,” and this is how we did it. Real scientists know that these 50 co-authors are real scientists. That is transparent from the tenor of the report itself.
The publication (PDF) is “double peer reviewed,” in that it discusses thousands of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals, and is itself peer reviewed. That is in sharp contrast to President Obama’s own EPA, which issued its “endangerment finding” legally authorizing regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, without submitting the finding to its own peer review board, as required by federal law. What were they so afraid of if 97% of scientists supposedly agree with them?
The conclusion of the report is that the U.N.’s IPCC has exaggerated the amount of global warming likely to occur due to mankind’s emissions of CO2, and the warming that human civilization will cause as a result “is likely to be modest and cause no net harm to the global environment or to human well-being.” The primary, dominant cause of global climate change is natural causes, not human effects, the report concludes.
The fundamentals of the argument are that carbon dioxide is not some toxic industrial gas, but a natural, trace gas constituting just 0.038% of the atmosphere, or less than 4/100ths of one percent. The report states, “At the current level of 400 parts per million, we still live in a CO2-starved world. Atmospheric levels (of CO2) 15 times greater existed during the pre-Cambrian period (about 550 million years ago) without known adverse effects,” such as catastrophic global warming. Much was made of the total atmospheric concentration of CO2 growing past 400 parts per million. But one percent of the atmosphere would be 10,000 parts per million. Moreover, human emissions of CO2 are only 4% to 5% of total global emissions, counting natural causes.
In addition, CO2 is actually essential to all life on the planet. Plants need CO2 to grow and conduct photosynthesis, which is the natural process that creates food for animals and fish at the bottom of the food chain. The increase of CO2 in the atmosphere that has occurred due to human emissions has actually increased agricultural growth and output as a result, causing actually an increased greening of the planet. So has any warming caused by such human emissions, as minor warming increases agricultural growth. The report states, “CO2 is a vital nutrient used by plants in photosynthesis. Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere ‘greens’ the planet and helps feed the growing human population.”
Furthermore, the temperature impact of increased concentrations of CO2 declines logarithmically. Or as the report says, “Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)…exerts a diminishing warming effect as its concentration increases.” That means there is a natural limit to how much increased CO2 can effectively warm the planet, as the effect of more and more CO2 ultimately becomes negligible as CO2 concentration grows. Maybe that is why even with many times more CO2 in the atmosphere in the deep past, there was no catastrophic global warming.
The Obama Administration is busily at work on a project to define what it is calling “the social cost of carbon.” But the only documented effect of the increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide so far is the resulting increased agricultural output, valued in one study at $1.3 trillion. The Obama Administration is effectively conducting a cost-benefit analysis with no consideration of the benefits. Note that this project is being conducted on a planet populated by what is known as “carbon-based” life forms. That includes plants, animals, and marine life.
The biggest problem with the catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming fantasy is that it is very costly for the economy. It is already delaying the Keystone Pipeline, which is privately financed infrastructure that would produce thousands of good paying jobs. Should be a no-brainer. The Administration’s policies are also sharply restricting the production of oil and gas on federally controlled lands. Then there is the Administration’s War on Coal, which threatens thousands of more jobs.
Perhaps most importantly, reliable supplies of low cost energy powerfully promote economic growth. Already burgeoning supplies of inexpensive natural gas resulting from the fracking revolution on state and private lands are stimulating a budding revival of American manufacturing. But the whole point of the EPA’s global warming regulation would be to impose a cost wedge on the traditional carbon based energy sources that have powered the industrial revolution – coal, oil and natural gas.
Alternative energy from wind, solar, even biofuels is inherently more costly because the energy in wind, sunrays, corn, etc. is much more diffuse, so more expensive to collect in usable form. Moreover, these alternative energy sources are inherently unreliable, because sometimes the wind does not blow, and the sun does not shine. So back up traditional fossil fuel sources are still needed, which further adds to the costs. This will all result in higher costs for electricity, the fundamental power source for the modern, consumer based economy.
The science of global warming as discussed above does not justify these costs for the economy.
[First published at Forbes.]