September 2, 2009
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Letters to the Editor and other People Speak
FROM-Salt Lake Tribune
Evidence abounds that global warming isn't our fault
Richard W. Flygare
The Tribune 's Aug. 26 editorial ("Head in sand," Opinion), which attacked the views of Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, exemplifies the worst aspects of the highly polarized debate about climate change. The Tribune's position on climate change is one-sided to the point of extremism.
The newspaper studiously ignores a large (and growing) body of evidence that legitimately disputes the theoretical foundations of the hypothesis that global warming is human-caused, as well as poorly supported speculation about its effects on weather, climate and the environment in general.
Scientific skeptics (not "deniers") of the global-warming hypothesis agree that Earth's climate has experienced mild warming since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age 250 years ago. We also agree that climate is changing -- as it has continuously for over 4.5 billion years. Our disagreement concerns causation and attempts to attribute effects to a cause (human greenhouse-gas emissions) that may have little to do with climate change compared with hundreds of other natural factors.
The Tribune editorial board appears to believe that climate-model results are reliable and that individuals "who [have] no training in reading climate models" should be ignored, if not ridiculed. I would therefore like to call your attention to recent work by Dr. Richard Lindzen (Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at MIT and a former scientific reviewer for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama/Huntsville Space Science Center.
Unlike Al Gore (a government major) and James Hansen (an astronomer), Lindzen and Spencer are two of the world's foremost atmospheric scientists. Their recent work indicates that the "forcing" effects of carbon dioxide on atmospheric temperatures are much weaker than previously assumed in the 11 computer models used by the IPCC. Lindzen reported (2009) that 15 years of satellite data collected by the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment indicate that outgoing long-wave radiation (heat) is not trapped by the atmosphere in the manner assumed in the IPCC models.
Spencer's work (also based on empirical data) strongly suggests that climate feedback from clouds may be neutral or negative, not positive, as the models assume. These findings, if corroborated by further research, are devastating to the hypothesis that human greenhouse-gas emissions have a material impact on global temperatures.
As one with many years of experience modeling complex systems, I can assure you that when model assumptions or results contradict reality, one is always better off choosing reality. Students of climate change with the backgrounds necessary to understand how the models work also understand the stunning significance of these results. These are but two examples of the work of hundreds of scientists with impeccable credentials and sterling reputations who remain skeptical of the global-warming hypothesis.
Science has never been a "consensus-based" undertaking. Consensus is a political concept that has no legitimacy in science. Scientific skepticism has historically been (and hopefully will remain) one of the main bulwarks protecting scientific knowledge from the depredations of politics (and the potential bias that comes with government grant dollars on which the careers of many academics depend).
After Albert Einstein's work literally upended the "consensus" view of physics that had reigned for almost 250 years, he observed, "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."
In the future, I suggest that The Tribune display more humility, and acknowledge the existence of a large body of scientific evidence that runs contrary to the human-caused global warming hypothesis