Political Climate
Feb 21, 2008
Controversial Head of Oregon Climate Service Steps Aside

Stuart Tomlinson, The Oregonian

The controversial head of the Oregon Climate Service—stripped of the “state climatologist” title last year by Gov. Ted Kulongoski—announced today that he will retire effective May 1. In February 2007, Kulongoski asked the president of Oregon State University to stop George Taylor from calling himself the state climatologist because of Taylor’s skeptical stance on global warming. Taylor, who has a master’s degree in meteorology and runs the state-funded Oregon Climate Service, has been widely known as Oregon’s state climatologist since 1991. Technically, however, the position was discontinued along with federal funding in the late 1980s. The climate service tracks weather and generates maps from its offices at OSU.

“I’m walking out voluntarily—it’s good timing for me,’’ Taylor, 60, said this morning. “I’m going out willingly.” Taylor said he believes climate change is a combination of natural factor and human factors. “I don’t deny that human activities affect climate change,” he said. “But I believe up to now, natural variations have played a more important role than human activities.” Those views didn’t sit well with Kulongoski, who believes the science increasingly points to human activity as the most likely cause of global warming. He has appointed task forces of well-known Oregon scientists and business leaders to advise him on climate change

Taylor said he will continue to work as an independent consultant, with an emphasis on extreme precipitation and precipitation analysis at his home in Corvallis. He said he has nothing but fond memories of his 19 years at OSU. “There have been a lot of nice, supportive people,’’ he said. “It’s been fun.” See more here.

For more examples of the intimidation skeptics face, see this link.

Feb 21, 2008
Global-Warming Authoritarianism

By Keith Lockitch, for SPPI

Many people are calling for drastic political action to cope with climate change. But the authors of a new book, The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, go much further, claiming that global warming can be effectively dealt with only by “an authoritarian form of government.” In an article promoting the book, co-author David Shearman praises China’s recent ban on plastc shopping bags, expressing special admiration for its authoritarian quality. “The importance of the decision,” he writes, “lies in the fact that China can do it by edict and close the factories.” “Views like this reveal an ugly and ominous aspect of the political frenzy surrounding global warming,” said Dr. Keith Lockitch, a resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute.

“While few global-warming activists are willing--as Shearman is--to come out in favor of openly dictatorial policies, the kinds of laws and regulations that activists do call for will hand a comparably frightening degree of control over our lives to politicians and environmentalist bureaucrats. “In one form or another, every minute of our every day involves the emission of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas claimed to be the cause of climate change. Every moment we spend running our computers, lighting our homes, powering countless laborsaving appliances, driving to work or school or anywhere else--we are using industrialscale energy to make our lives better.  “But global-warming activists want our use of the fossil fuels that provide the major source of that energy to be strictly controlled by the government and severely curtailed, no matter the harm that causes.

Read more here.

Feb 21, 2008
Global Warming Right on Schedule

By Peter Friedman

Although there are many uncertainties in climate science, we do know with reasonable assuredness that the earth is currently experiencing a modest warming trend. We also know that CO2, which is a small contributor to the “greenhouse effect,” is increasing in concentration in the atmosphere. The short-term confluence of these trends has led many to disregard the more convincing longer-term data and jump to a conclusion that there is a cause-and-effect relationship. But while the media have decided that the science is settled, many in the scientific community are skeptical - and with good reason.

Much of the current panic began when Dr. Michael Mann and his coauthors published their now-discredited “hockey stick” temperature plot - so named for its shape that showed a long trend of steady temperature over a thousand-year period and a sudden rise since the early 1900s. Dr. Mann’s hockey stick became the foundation for policy leaders advocating mandatory emissions caps. Fortunately for mankind (but unfortunately for the professional reputation of Dr. Mann), the hockey stick was convincingly shown to be an artifact of his flawed statistical methodology, which exaggerated recent data and smoothed older data. Stephen McIntyre even demonstrated that Dr. Mann’s erroneous methodology generated hockey stick plots even when random data were inserted. In contrast with Dr. Mann’s conclusion, the current modest temperature trend is consistent in both magnitude and timing with the natural temperature cycles that the earth has been experiencing for millions of years, and it is nothing to fear.

While there is little we can do that would alter Earth’s temperature cycles, we may be leading ourselves down a road of economic suicide. Here in Massachusetts, our Legislature is in the process of capping CO2 emissions levels at 20 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2050. Does anybody who is knowledgeable about energy production believe that this is even achievable? Although our Legislature will not be able to alter the millions-year-old climate cycle, they have repeatedly shown that they are very capable of making life more expensive here in Massachusetts. For example, coal is much more plentiful and economical for power generation than alternatives such as natural gas. But because of regulatory reasons in Massachusetts, we rely on natural gas for about half of our electrical generation, raising the cost of both electricity and natural gas and making us more dependent on imported LNG. Internationally proposed “solutions,” which exempt developing nations, are an even greater mistake. Does it really make sense for the United States to sign a treaty that gives another economic advantage to China?

Although many are gripped in fear of global warming today, 30 years ago we feared the opposite. During my teenage years in Florida, cold weather kept creeping farther down the state, destroying more orange groves every year. “Experts” were predicting that the Florida orange industry would be wiped out as a result of the cooling climate, which was incidentally also blamed on human activities. President Franklin Roosevelt said during the Great Depression, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The same could also be said about global warming. Read more here.

Dr. Peter Friedman is an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UMass Dartmouth and a member of the American Geophysical Union.

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