A Climate Debate: Both Sides Showed Up


Churchville, VA–: I just took part in a remarkable event: a public debate over manmade global warming in which both sides appeared–and the Associated Press reported on it! I have been invited to many of these events over the past six years, but the warmists always canceled when they found a skeptic was part of the deal.

Dennis Avery 1

John Christy, from the University of Alabama/Huntsville, opened the debate. He graphed the climate models’ projections of huge warming–made just before the non-warming of the past 16 years. As usual, he gave a great presentation.

Mark Morano of the Climate Depot website spoke about the politics of the man-made warming campaign, and economist Myron Ebell talked about green energy’s horrendous and mounting costs.

On the warming side, Dr. Scott Denning of ColoradoStateUniversity insisted that CO2 emitted heat, and more CO2 meant a warmer planet. He was corrected by Dr. Tom Sheehan, an MIT-trained physicist. Sheehan said CO2 does not give off heat, it merely absorbs heat and then diffuses it again.

Dr. James Hurrell of The National Center for Atmospheric Research said we should all respect the science that is telling us a huge warming is on the way, but he couldn’t tell us when the modeling would finally prove accurate.

Annie Petunk of the Environmental Defense Fund waxed eloquent about her girlhood in Appalachia, but said nothing about the EDF’s efforts to eliminate West Virginia’s coal industry.

I showed the highly variable temperature record of the past 10,000 years, with an abrupt warming or cooling shift every 700 years or so. I warned that the abrupt climate impacts on people had been far greater than we would have expected from a temperature shift of only 2-4 degrees C.

The 2-4 C drop, along with accompanying shorter grower seasons is literally a killer and is the pattern that goes back at least 1 million years.

Nor is today’s weather “more extreme.” During the “little ice ages,” today’s Iraq typically got 300-year droughts, which starved virtually its entire population. Egypt suffered six periods when centuries of inadequate Nile floods caused famines so severe that people ate their children. Farther north, the “little ice ages” in Europe and Northern China drowned the crops with violent rains and heavy flooding.

Dr. Hurrell said he agreed that the past warmings and “little ices ages” were real. He insisted, however, that today’s warming–coming right after the 550-year Little Ice Age–was “different.” He noted that higher temperatures had already produced more and heavier rainfall, and more drying of the soil surface.

I pointed out that Dr Phil Jones, the guru of the whole warmist movement, recently told BBC the warming from 1976-1998 “could not be statistically distinguished” from the earlier warming periods at 1915-1940 and 1860-1880. Those warmings also featured heavier rainfalls and drier soil temperatures. (The hotter years of the 1930s, in fact. produced the Dust Bowl!)

The “scientific consensus” can no longer be defended simply by “votes” from modelers and environmental activists. The costs of energy and job loss are becoming too great too fast–even for the Europeans who led the scare. Europe is now abandoning its green investors, even as Europe’s industries plan investments in the U.S. where they can benefit from low-cost shale gas.

Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers may write to him at PO Box 202 Churchville, VA 2442; email to [email protected] Visit our website at www.cgfi.org

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