Walter Cunningham responds to Robert Curl, who authored an article criticizing Cunningham's Houston Chronicle article, "When You Don't Have the Facts, Appeal to Public Opinion.
The subjects and style of my writing attracts rebuttals. I usually resist the temptation to respond, but the article by Robert Curl, Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus at Rice University and Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry is just too good to resist. His article is typical of academics with all those advanced degrees, and who know what is best for the rest of us—if we would just listen. In typical global warming alarmist fashion, it attacks the credentials, the economic interests or the politics (or all three) of those who disagree with them, and does not cite any empirical data that would prove their critics do not know what they are talking about.
After citing the National Academy of Sciences endorsement of AGW, Professor Curl emphasizes the credentials of the members and claims the NAS is “objective.” Maybe we’re supposed to ignore bad science if the perpetrators’ credentials are good. NAS is certainly a prestigious organization, but, along with several other scientific organizations lately, it has descended into the world of science politics.
What about the 31,000 scientists who signed the Oregon Petition, saying they DO NOT think humans are making a noticeable contribution to global warming, global cooling, climate change or catastrophic climate change?
Professor Curl suggests that we “download a layman's explanation … from the National Academy's website at http://dels-old.nas.edu/basc/climate-change/
to obtain the most authoritative information on the subject.” The site is quite representative of the alarmists’ approach to “explanation.” Instead of attempting to make the case, it treats AGW as a given. They do offer the reader several articles on dealing with human caused global warning as a “fact of life.” Professor Curl’s “authoritative source” leaves a lot to be desired unless you are already a true believer in AGW.
Curl goes on to say, "all of humanity is faced with some difficult choices. No matter what we do, from a major course correction to doing nothing, it will be unpleasant and expensive.” Doesn’t that amount to an admission that even if we meet and exceed the CO2 cuts targeted by the IPCC, our temperature will not return to normal—whatever that is?
Curl is right when he says that any actions to restrict CO2 will be “unpleasant and expensive.” A reduction in CO2 will have to come from a reduction in fossil fuel use. President Obama has talked about reducing U.S. fossil fuel use by 80 percent by 2050. That would leave our projected population in 1950 with a fossil fuel energy consumption of 40 million Btu/year-per-capita—about equal to our per capita consumption back in 1880. Given the direct relationship between energy consumption and standard of living, such a move would be worse than “unpleasant.”
He does admit, “These sobering conclusions about future warming are projections based upon elaborate models of the Earth.” These are models built to prove their hypothesis that human caused CO2 is a dominant factor in controlling the Earth’s temperature. Models are built on assumptions, not data; assumptions are (or, should be) based on interpretation of empirical data. It is in the biased interpretation of historical data where we should be having a public debate. Models are not data.
An American Meteorological Society survey in November 2009, found that a full 62 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with “Global climate models are reliable in their predictions for a warming of the planet.” In the same survey, 50 percent of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the IPCC assertion, “Most of the warming since 1950 is very likely human-induced.”
The real crisis today is that so many people seem bent on making decisions based on, as yet, unproven scientific hypotheses that will cost all of us dearly—in standard of living, not just dollars. All of that in case the miniscule contribution humans make to the tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere could devastate the planet in the next 50-100 years.
When the concern is serious enough, the question should be researched objectively and publically. Those climate scientists who have not bought into the alarmists radical hypothesis deserve the same access to government grants as the fear mongers who have absorbed most of the $30 billion the government has expended to support AGW in the last 20 years.
We cannot always judge what a man says by his credentials. What he understands and can explain is most important. Look past the credentials and consider the logic of their case—if they try to make one. Better yet, look at the data yourself. That doesn’t mean models, which have not accurately predicted anything to do with climate.
What is wrong with laying out the data in a common setting so each advocate can understand why the other can’t see the light. We should be relying on the best objective data to draw scientific conclusions. How many times in the last decade have you seen a proponent of the new global warming hypothesis willing to publically debate a climate scientist supporting the historical theory of our global climate?
For those who do not feel comfortable assessing the empirical data themselves, I recommend a paper that looks at how the historical data is used or misinterpreted to conclude that temperatures during our lifetime are unusual and that humans are responsible for temperature change. http://rps3.com/Files/AGW/EngrCritique.AGW-Science.v4.pdf
. The paper is by Burt Rutan, the engineer behind Spaceship One and Spaceship Two. Like me, Burt is not a climate scientist and neither of us has an axe to grind on the question of AGW. Burt looks at each of the arguments the alarmists use to frighten us into believing that if we do not severely limit human CO2 emissions, they will devastate our planet by the end of the 21st century.
Show me the data. If it supports the claims of global warming alarmists, I will be glad to help alert the public. Unfortunately, the data I have been reviewing for the last 20 years provide no such support.
Walter Cunningham is a geophysicist, fighter pilot, and Apollo 7 astronaut.
Source Link: heartland.org