March 18, 2009

Let science — not hysteria — guide us on climate change

via-Asheville Citizen-Times

Will our stressed economy survive global warming/climate change hysteria?

I find it hard to swallow the spoon-fed global warming/climate change rhetoric frequently found on these pages. While I claim no expertise in such matters, I do have a scientific background and apply critical thinking to what I read, especially as to perceived environmental issues.

Why have the purveyors of gloom and doom suddenly dropped “global warming” in favor of “climate change?” Could it be that we are currently experiencing a cooling trend?

If so, that wouldn’t fit the “global warming” scenario but would fit into “climate change.” Good move — cover your behind.

What data shows

Are we experiencing climate change for the first time in geological history, or even the last century? Both the scientific and journalistic records indicate that there have been several climate change trends in the past century alone. The journalistic record reveals that in the early 1900s it was global cooling, then global warming beginning in the late 1920s; global cooling again in the 1950s through 1970s (first Earth Day in 1970 was all about the dangers of global cooling); and from the early 1980s to now, we’re back to global warming. Will the hysteria change to global cooling soon?

Is the scientific community really settled on computer-modeled global warming/climate change? Given the incredible number of variables and the demonstrated errors of computer modeling, it would be unbelievable to have consensus on future climate. It is easy to find credible climate scientists challenging virtually all the dire predictions we’re steadily fed by environmental zealots like Al Gore.

An excellent example of this division played out recently in Hickory, where a debate, co-sponsored by the John Locke Foundation and Reese Institute for the Conservation of Resources at Lenoir-Rhyne University, brought together two scientists before an audience of more than 250 people. The following summary is posted on the Foundation’s Web site: “William Schlesinger of the Cary Institute, a former dean of Duke’s environment school, argues that we ignore the changing climate at our peril. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Alabama’s state climatologist, counters that cold, hard facts contradict the most outrageous claims about impending doom.” Doesn’t sound like agreement within the scientific community to me. You can view the entire debate on the John Locke Foundation Web site (

Divergent views

We are constantly being told that human activities are the major contributors to global warming/climate change. Here again, there is no agreement. Some scientists argue that increased carbon dioxide (CO2), the alleged warming culprit, is a result of the recent warming trend and not the cause. Others argue that our current CO2 contributions are so minute in the entire spectrum of atmospheric gases influencing our climate that it couldn’t have any appreciable impact on climate change. These documented scientific arguments are easily available if you want to research them on the Internet.

I have no doubt that the climate is changing. It constantly changes, just like forests and everything else in nature in response to complex variables. I don’t believe we are capable of controlling the planet’s climate and, if we could have some impact, it would eventually be trumped by natural events much more influential on climate than human activities (think sun spots and volcanic activity). Most of all, I don’t think we should base important decisions on unproven hypothetical climate change modeling.

Energy strategy

Over the next few months we will be debating a long-term energy strategy for this country. President Obama has clearly stated that a new strategy is desperately needed to reverse global warming/climate change. Obviously this means that policies will be advanced to accelerate our move away from plentiful CO2-producing fossil fuels toward unproven renewable energy sources. These new policies will attempt to totally revamp our current energy infrastructure.

Hopefully, this debate will reveal the uncertainty of global warming/climate change science as well as the increased cost for such a radical energy transition. At a time when our country faces intense economic pressures, consumers and taxpayers will no doubt be asked to bear the financial burden. It should also be pointed out that dramatic energy cost increases will further deplete our country’s ability to compete in a global economy while other nations reap the benefits of lower energy costs. That’s not going to help our economy.

While I’m all for moving toward renewable energy sources and energy independence for our country, it ought to be based on reasonable assessments and free-market motives, not government mandates and subsidies based on conjecture.

Steve Henson, N.C. Registered Forester #496, is the executive director of the Southern Appalachian Multiple-Use Council. He lives in Clyde.

1 comment:

  1. There could be no better investment in America than to invest in America becoming energy independent! We need to utilize everything in out power to reduce our dependence on foreign oil including using our own natural resources. Create cheap clean energy, new badly needed green jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.The high cost of fuel this past year seriously damaged our economy and society. The cost of fuel effects every facet of consumer goods from production to shipping costs. It costs the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric car. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in electric drive trains the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.We have so much available to us such as wind and solar. Let's spend some of those bail out billions and get busy harnessing this energy. Create cheap clean energy, badly needed new jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What a win-win situation that would be for our nation at large! There is a really good new book out by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now.