Frozen in Time
Dec 17, 2009
Fact-based climate debate

By Lee C. Gerhard, IPCC Expert Reviewer

It is crucial that scientists are factually accurate when they do speak out, that they ignore media hype and maintain a clinical detachment from social or other agendas. There are facts and data that are ignored in the maelstrom of social and economic agendas swirling about Copenhagen.

Greenhouse gases and their effects are well-known. Here are some of things we know:

The most effective greenhouse gas is water vapor, comprising approximately 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect.

Carbon dioxide concentration has been continually rising for nearly 100 years. It continues to rise, but carbon dioxide concentrations at present are near the lowest in geologic history.

Temperature change correlation with carbon dioxide levels is not statistically significant.

There are no data that definitively relate carbon dioxide levels to temperature changes.

The greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide logarithmically declines with increasing concentration. At present levels, any additional carbon dioxide can have very little effect.

We also know a lot about Earth temperature changes:

Global temperature changes naturally all of the time, in both directions and at many scales of intensity.

The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934, not 1998. The U.S. has the best and most extensive temperature records in the world.

Global temperature peaked in 1998 on the current 60-80 year cycle, and has been episodically declining ever since. This cooling absolutely falsifies claims that human carbon dioxide emissions are a controlling factor in Earth temperature.

Voluminous historic records demonstrate the Medieval Climate Optimum (MCO) was real and that the “hockey stick” graphic that attempted to deny that fact was at best bad science. The MCO was considerably warmer than the end of the 20th century.

During the last 100 years, temperature has both risen and fallen, including the present cooling. All the changes in temperature of the last 100 years are in normal historic ranges, both in absolute value and, most importantly, rate of change.

Contrary to many public statements:

Effects of temperature change are absolutely independent of the cause of the temperature change.

Global hurricane, cyclonic and major storm activity is near 30-year lows. Any increase in cost of damages by storms is a product of increasing population density in vulnerable areas such as along the shores and property value inflation, not due to any increase in frequency or severity of storms.

Polar bears have survived and thrived over periods of extreme cold and extreme warmth over hundreds of thousands of years - extremes far in excess of modern temperature changes.

The 2009 minimum Arctic ice extent was significantly larger than the previous two years. The 2009 Antarctic maximum ice extent was significantly above the 30-year average. There are only 30 years of records.

Rate and magnitude of sea level changes observed during the last 100 years are within normal historical ranges. Current sea level rise is tiny and, at most, justifies a prediction of perhaps ten centimeters rise in this century.

The present climate debate is a classic conflict between data and computer programs. The computer programs are the source of concern over climate change and global warming, not the data. Data are measurements. Computer programs are artificial constructs.

Public announcements use a great deal of hyperbole and inflammatory language. For instance, the word “ever” is misused by media and in public pronouncements alike. It does not mean “in the last 20 years,” or “the last 70 years.” “Ever” means the last 4.5 billion years.

For example, some argue that the Arctic is melting, with the warmest-ever temperatures. One should ask, “How long is ever?” The answer is since 1979. And then ask, “Is it still warming?” The answer is unequivocally “No.” Earth temperatures are cooling. Similarly, the word “unprecedented” cannot be legitimately used to describe any climate change in the last 8,000 years.

There is not an unlimited supply of liquid fuels. At some point, sooner or later, global oil production will decline, and transportation costs will become insurmountable if we do not develop alternative energy sources. However, those alternative energy sources do not now exist.

A legislated reduction in energy use or significant increase in cost will severely harm the global economy and force a reduction in the standard of living in the United States. It is time we spent the research dollars to invent an order-of-magnitude better solar converter and an order-of-magnitude better battery. Once we learn how to store electrical energy, we can electrify transportation. But these are separate issues. Energy conversion is not related to climate change science.

I have been a reviewer of the last two IPCC reports, one of the several thousand scientists who purportedly are supporters of the IPCC view that humans control global temperature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of us try to bring better and more current science to the IPCC, but we usually fail. Recently we found out why. The whistleblower release of e-mails and files from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University has demonstrated scientific malfeasance and a sickening violation of scientific ethics.

If the game of Russian roulette with the environment that Adrian Melott contends is going on, is it how will we feed all the people when the cold of the inevitable Little Ice Age returns? It will return. We just don’t know when. Read more here.

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