Friday, June 26, 2009

New Scientific Dissent on Global Warming?

I just read an article in the Wall Street Journal that gives a very different picture of the scientific consensus on global warming. They do not deny global warming, the rise of global temperatures has been well documented, but they are contesting the cause of global warming. It appears that there is a growing opinion that humans (and human produced CO2, which is now the subject of legislation) do not contribute as much to global warming. The article implies that there are more scientists who have been discounting the doomsday scenarios that politicians have been using to pressure people into accepting the legislation.

This article should come with a few grains of salt:

1. It's from the Wall Street Journal.

2. It's published just a few days before a key vote on the cap and trade bill in Congress.

But there are a few reasons why we should pay attention to this article:

1. The cap and trade method that they are proposing in Congress is based on similar legislation in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, which is now being reversed or abandoned because it is "inefficient" and does not accomplish what it intends. In other words, now that the US is finally getting on the bandwagon everyone else is getting off.

2. The article claims "earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02." I wonder if this is true (the first part) because I have not seen good solid proof of how the earth's temperature has changed over the past 5-10 years.

3. Solar Cycles. Though not mentioned in the article, my understanding was that one key test of the theory that humans are the cause of global warming and not the sun, is to have accurate data on the sun for more than one solar cycle. So far we only have good reliable data for one cycle and we are now entering the second. The current solar minimum has been unprecedentedly low, but I have not heard in a few months what the sun is doing. Also what effect is this having on temperatures? This year I have heard rumblings in the news about "A Year Without Summer" in some parts of the world. I wonder if that is true.

What is your take on this? Does this have some scientific merit or is this just political maneuvering?


  1. My take of it is straight from the global warming page on the Wikipedia:

    "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation are responsible for most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century.[1] The IPCC also concludes that natural phenomena such as solar variation and volcanoes produced most of the warming from pre-industrial times to 1950 and had a small cooling effect afterward.[2][3] These basic conclusions have been endorsed by more than 45 scientific societies and academies of science,[B] including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries.[4]"

    I am not an expert on global warning, but anything officially endorsed by the national academy of science I usually put down as the most correct view of that subject.

    Nothing against the Wall Street Journal, one of the finest news organizations in the world, but their reporting, no matter how good it sounds, cannot compete with the near unanimous voice of the national academy of science + all the other scientific societies endorsing the idea that humans have been the main contributor to global warming over the last couple centuries.

    Now this is my opinion, and I admit could be wrong, but I feel safe believing the science these premier societies all officially endorse.

    Now, in addition to that, if you look at the data it looks pretty convincing to me.

    What scientists do not endorse, or what they don't seem to endorse is the dooms day attitude some politicians get it.

    Just because science is correct doesn't mean politicians should politicize it for gain or for justification of bad policies.

  2. I misspoke, I said last couple centuries but meant "since the middle of the 20th century."

  3. "In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming."

    If the US Academy of Sciences published a similar document I would be more convinced, but at least one academy is questioning it... as opposed to just Glenn Beck.

  4. Part of the question is whether or not we should actually do something. If temperatures are rising because of us, do we need to reverse the trend? I mean, are rising temperatures a bad thing anyway? They (media, politicians and scientists looking for grant money) always give worst case scenario accurate, or even honest.


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