AGW: Short on Science, Long on Religion

His name is James A. Peden, he’s the Editor of the Middlebury Community Network. He also spent some of his earlier years as an Atmospheric Physicist at the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh and Extranuclear Laboratories in Blawnox, Pennsylvania, studying ion-molecule reactions in the upper atmosphere.

About CO2 and AGW? He’s not particularly impressed with the arguments put forward by the AGW crowd:

As a dissenting physicist, I simply can no longer buy the notion that CO2 produces any significant warming of the atmosphere at any rate. I’ve studied the atomic absorption physics to death, from John Nicol’s extensive development to the much longer winded dissertation by Gerlich & Tscheuschner and everything in between, it simply doesn’t add up. Even if every single IR photon absorbed by a CO2 molecule were magically transformed into purely thermal translational modes , the pitifully small quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere doesn’t add up to much additional heat. And if the aforementioned magical 100% transformation from radiation into “heat” were true, then all arguments concerning re-emission ( source of all the wonderful “greenhouse effect” cartoons with their arrows flying in all directions ) are out the window.

More and more, I am becoming convinced that atmospheric heating is primarily by thermal conduction from the surface, whose temperature is determined primarily by solar absorption. I get a lot of email from laymen seeking simple answers. My simple reply goes like this:

1. The sun heats the earth.
2. The earth heats the atmosphere
3. After the sun sets, the atmosphere cools back down

With a parting comment: “If we were to have 96 continuous hours without sunlight, temperatures would likely be below freezing over all the world’s land masses. The warmest place you could find would be to take a swim in the nearest ocean. There is no physical process in the atmosphere which “traps” heat. The so-called “greenhouse effect ” is a myth.

His is one of the more extensive and readable critiques (hit the link) I’ve found. It goes to the heart of the AGW argument and pretty much demolishes it.

Near the end he summarizes with a pretty complete (and compelling) list:

1. The “Greenhouse Effect” is a natural and valuable phenomenon, without which, the planet would be uninhabitable.

2. Modest Global Warming, at least up until 1998 when a cooling trend began, has been real.

3. CO2 is not a significant greenhouse gas; 95% of the contribution is due to Water Vapor.

4. Man’s contribution to Greenhouse Gasses is relatively insignificant. We didn’t cause the recent Global Warming and we cannot stop it.

5. Solar Activity appears to be the principal driver for Climate Change, accompanied by complex ocean currents which distribute the heat and control local weather systems.

6. CO2 is a useful trace gas in the atmosphere, and the planet would actually benefit by having more, not less of it, because it is not a driver for Global Warming and would enrich our vegetation, yielding better crops to feed the expanding population.

7. CO2 is not causing global warming, in fact, CO2 is lagging temperature change in all reliable datasets. The cart is not pulling the donkey, and the future cannot influence the past.

8. Nothing happening in the climate today is particularly unusual, and in fact has happened many times in the past and will likely happen again in the future.

9. The UN IPCC has corrupted the “reporting process” so badly, it makes the oil-for-food scandal look like someone stole some kid’s lunch money. They do not follow the Scientific Method, and modify the science as needed to fit their predetermined conclusions. In empirical science, one does NOT write the conclusion first, then solicit “opinion” on the report, ignoring any opinion which does not fit their predetermined conclusion while falsifying data to support unrealistic models.

10. Polar Bear populations are not endangered, in fact current populations are healthy and at almost historic highs. The push to list them as endangered is an effort to gain political control of their habitat… particularly the North Slope oil fields.

11. There is no demonstrated causal relationship between hurricanes and/or tornadoes and global warming. This is sheer conjecture totally unsupported by any material science.

12. Observed glacial retreats in certain select areas have been going on for hundreds of years, and show no serious correlation to short-term swings in global temperatures.

13. Greenland is shown to be an island completely surrounded by water, not ice, in maps dating to the 14th century. There is active geothermal activity in the currently “melting” sections of Greenland.

14. The Antarctic Ice cover is currently the largest ever observed by satellite, and periodic ice shelf breakups are normal and correlate well with localized tectonic and geothermal activity along the Antarctic Peninsula.

15. The Global Warming Panic was triggered by an artifact of poor mathematics which has been thoroughly disproved. The panic is being deliberately nurtured by those who stand to gain both financially and politically from perpetuation of the hoax.

16. Scientists who “deny” the hoax are often threatened with loss of funding or even their jobs.

17. The correlation between solar activity and climate is now so strong that solar physicists are now seriously discussing the much greater danger of pending global cooling.

18. Biofuel hysteria is already having a disastrous effect on world food supplies and prices, and current technologies for biofuel production consume more energy than the fuels produce.

19. Global Warming Hysteria is potentially linked to a stress-induced mental disorder.

20. In short, there is no “climate crisis” of any kind at work on our planet.

When you read and consider what Peden has persuasively argued it’s hard not to be very skeptical of the “science” in the argument the AGW crowd continues to stand by. And you wonder why they remain so dismissively adamant about that position in the face of this convincing dissent?

That is until you realize, as Freeman Dyson (a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton) has, that it has become a religion for many of those involved. It has to do with shifting allegiance from one dogma to another. Interestingly, Dyson discovered this while writing 2 book reviews for the New York Times Review of Books.

Upon finishing his reviews he says:

All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists–most of whom are not scientists–holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.

And real scientists would certainly want to hear them, wouldn’t they? But the AGW crowd has adopted the secular version of the bumper sticker by which they love to deride Christians as unthinking automotons: “God wrote it, I believe it and that ends it”.

Dyson, who is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, which is like our National Academy of Science (of which he is also a member), chides the Royal Society for adopting precisely that attitude – a secular version of the very same bumper sticker.

The last five chapters of the Zedillo book are by writers from five of the countries most concerned with the politics of global warming: Russia, Britain, Canada, India, and China. Each of the five authors has been responsible for giving technical advice to a government, and each of them gives us a statement of that government’s policy. Howard Dalton, spokesman for the British government, is the most dogmatic. His final paragraph begins:

It is the firm view of the United Kingdom that climate change constitutes a major threat to the environment and human society, that urgent action is needed now across the world to avert that threat, and that the developed world needs to show leadership in tackling climate change.

The United Kingdom has made up its mind and takes the view that any individuals who disagree with government policy should be ignored. This dogmatic tone is also adopted by the Royal Society, the British equivalent of the US National Academy of Sciences. The Royal Society recently published a pamphlet addressed to the general public with the title “Climate Change Controversies: A Simple Guide.” The pamphlet says:

This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming.

In other words, if you disagree with the majority opinion about global warming, you are an enemy of science. The authors of the pamphlet appear to have forgotten the ancient motto of the Royal Society, Nullius in Verba, which means, “Nobody’s word is final.”

Very little irony here, is there?


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