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Category — Ultra-skepticism

A Skeptic of Climate Alarmism Speaks: Does Walter Cunningham Have More of a Case than His Critics Contend?

“As I have argued for years, we simply do not know the answer [to the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gas forcing]. There is a wide margin of error in many of the ingredients that go into the [climate] models. For example, we do not know some of the radiative properties of the aerosols to a factor of 5. No matter how good your climate model is, you cannot compensate for that uncertainty. The range of uncertainty is broad enough to accommodate [Patrick] Michaels (well, maybe North) and [Jerry] Mahlman.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), September 17, 1999

“One has to fill in what goes on between 5 km and the surface. The standard way is through atmospheric models. I cannot make a better excuse.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), October 2, 1998

“We do not know much about modeling climate. It is as though we are modeling a human being. Models are in position at last to tell us the creature has two arms and two legs, but we are being asked to cure cancer.”

- Gerald North (Texas A&M) to Rob Bradley (Enron), November 12, 1999

The quotations above are what Gerald North privately believes–or believed prior to Climategate, an event that pushed him to the Left unlike his scientific colleague Judith Curry. I reproduce his quotations (there are many others) in light of a recent op-ed published by geophysicist and Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham in the Houston Chronicle , “Climate Change Alarmists Ignore Scientific Methods.”

Cunningham makes a number of worthy points that should not be dismissed by the political “mainstream” climate scientists such as Andrew Dessler at Texas A&M. Cunningham can find support from many sources, from pollsters to economists to physical scientists.

Consider all three in turn:

Public Concern: The public is fatigued by and skeptical of sky-is-falling environmentalism when most objective indicators of environmental welfare are trending positive. (Even the worst-case oil spill by “beyond petroleum” BP has not turned into the disaster that anti-technology, anti-capitalism environmentalists had expected and hoped–the subject of a forthcoming post at MasterResource.)

Political Economy: Programs to regulate CO2 are all pain and no gain. Compare the costs of any local, state, federal, or international climate program versus the associated temperature reduction. It is tears in the ocean of benefit versus economic waste and politicization–and a loss of freedom.

We know more than ever before how government failure of  regulating  CO2 is as great or greater than the alleged market failure of not regulating CO2. International and national efforts to regulate CO2 smell so bad that more and more environmentalists are holding their nose.

Physical Science: Cunningham’s case against high-sensitivity warming can find support from not only middle-of-the-roaders such as Gerald North of Texas A&M (see quotations above) but also the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on close inspection.

Here are two salient IPCC quotations that were part of John Droz’s recent post at MasterResource: [Read more →]

August 19, 2010   6 Comments

The Validity of Man-made Atmospheric CO2 Buildup (Part I in an occasional series challenging ‘ultra-skeptic’ climate claims)

In the realm of climate science, as in most topics, there exists a range of ideas as to what is going on, and what it means for the future.

At the risk of generalizing, the gamut looks something like this: Ultra-alarmists think that human greenhouse-gas-producing activities will vastly change the face of the planet and make the earth inhospitable for humans; they therefore demand large and immediate action to curtail greenhouse gas emissions.

Alarmists understand that human activities are changing the earth’s climate and think that the potential changes are sufficient to warrant some pre-emptive action to try to mitigate them.

Skeptics think that humans activities are changing the earth’s climate but, by and large, they think that the changes are not likely to be terribly disruptive (and even could be, in net, positive) and that drastic action to curtail greenhouse gas emissions is unnecessary, difficult, and ineffective.

Ultra-skeptics think that human greenhouse gas-producing activities are impacting the earth’s climate in no way whatsoever.

Most of my energy tends to be directed at countering alarmist claims about impending climate catastrophe, but the scientist in me gets just as bent out of shape about some of the contentions made by the ultra-skeptics, which are simply unsupported by virtually any scientific evidence. Primary among these claims is that human activities are not responsible for the observed build-up of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This is just plain wrong. [Read more →]

March 18, 2009   44 Comments