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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|Paul Greenberg brought this man's name to my attention, so I went and learned a little more about him. And, with a little extra effort, I was even able to access his WSJ editorial (thanks to the Freepers).|
First, the bio:
John R. Christy is the Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. He holds a PhD and an MS in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Illinois, as well as Master's in Divinity (?!) and Bachelor's in Mathematics. He has published no less than 20 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals in the last seven years, and he serves on both the National Research Council and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, he was the lead author of the 2001 IPCC report.
I put this in here to establish the credentials of the man--somewhat more impressive than those of . . . ahem, other climate change "specialists."
Now, the heresy:
From Christy's article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal:
. . .I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.
There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why.
This is more than simple Global Warming skepticism--this is the smart (and therefore humble) scientist doing what the scientist is supposed to do. He is looking at real data, confirming it against hypotheses, and then altering his understandings accordingly. And a real scientist should look at the Earth and see in it a complexity that baffles the imagination--certainly far beyond our meager skills to understand at this point in time.
He goes on . . .
[Some of us] discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America. . . .
The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started.
Ouch. That's fairly devestating to the Al Gore/Michael Moore-held position that man is the root of all evils. Why, one might actually start to think that the world behaved in a cyclical fashion. If only we had seasons or lunar cycles or similar patterns to suggest that . . . . oh, wait.
But what really got my attention here were the conclusions Christy arrived at with regards to development and so-called "moral imperitives":
Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.
But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?
My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."
Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.
In short, the evil we see now that we have a chance to emiliorate is far more important than the evil we've invented that we have very little ability to effect.
THAT is a smart, principled position. One every politician with any intestinal fortitude should adopt IMMEDIATELY!
But, more importantly, I'd just be happy if our side of the political aisle started voicing a little reasonable skepticism based on some real science. The policy discussion can only be meaningful after we agree on a set of facts. And, right now, we've allowed the other side to control ALL the facts in this debate.