Over-Hyping of Green

Published November 5, 2008

The U.S. green movement is moving forward with its agenda to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) gas emissions. Colorado Governor Ritter has proposed various CO2 reduction measures. Many U.S. state legislatures are beginning to mandate that various percentages of future electrical energy generated come from renewable energy sources. Many cities and states across the U.S. are starting to implement costly programs to reduce CO2 emissions.

Renewable energy is currently much more expensive than traditional fossil fuel energy. I doubt that the public is aware of the heavy economic penalties to be paid by efforts to substantially reduce CO2 gases. These CO2 reduction efforts are beginning to be made just at the time we must start to adjust to the serious economic problems associated with the recent severe stock market downturn.

There is little the U.S. can do about reducing global CO2 amounts. China, India, and other third world countries will not agree to limit their CO2 emissions. It is important for our country to maintain its vibrant and growing economy to have sufficient resources to invest in research on new energy sources and in further development of our, as yet untapped, domestic energy supplies. It is more important to make progress on reducing our dependence on foreign energy than reducing CO2. We should not let an organized cabal of environmentalists, government bureaucrats, and liberal media groups brainwash us into going in a direction not in our country’s best interest.

I have been studying and teaching weather and climate for more than 50 years and have been making real-time seasonal hurricane forecasts for a quarter-century. I and many of my colleagues with comparable experience do not believe that CO2 gas emissions are anywhere near the threat to global climate as the environmental and liberal media groups have led us to believe.

Most people are not aware of how flimsy are the physical arguments behind the human-induced warming scenarios. There has yet to be a really open and honest scientific dialogue on this topic among our country’s most experienced weather and climate experts. Most knowledgeable global warming skeptics have been ignored and/or their motives questioned. Many have been falsely tagged as tools of the fossil fuel industry–reminding me a bit of the McCarthy period. By contrast, those harping the loudest on the dangers of CO2, such as Al Gore, typically have little real understanding or experience in how the atmosphere and ocean really function.

The global climate model (GCM) simulations by large U.S. and foreign government laboratories and universities on which so much of the warming science scenarios are based have basic flaws. These global models are not able to correctly model the globe’s small-scale precipitation processes. They have incorrectly parameterized the rain processes in their models to give an unrealistically warming influence from CO2 increases. These GCMs also do not properly model the globe’s deep ocean circulation, which appears to be the primary driving mechanism for most of the global temperature increases that have been observed. Most GCMs indicate that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 towards the end of the twenty-first century will lead to global warming of 2-5ºC. My best estimate of global warming for a doubling of CO2 is about 0.3-0.5ºC, 5-10 times less than the models estimate.

These GCMs have yet to demonstrate predictive skill at forecasting the next few years of global temperature. Why should we believe their predictions 50 to 100 years in the future?

Many thousands of scientists from the U.S. and around the globe do not accept the human-induced global warming hypothesis as it has been presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The summary statements of the IPCC reports are strongly biased to upholding the human influence on climate. The IPCC summaries often do not conform to the material in the reports. Most known warming skeptics, such as myself and a number of my very experienced colleagues, were never invited to participate in the IPCC process or even contacted by the IPCC for our views.

It is impossible to objectively separate the small amount of CO2-induced global warming that may have occurred from the large natural-induced global temperature changes that are always occurring. There has been little global warming the past 10 years due to recent changes in the global ocean circulation, which I and others foresee as the basin for a modest cooling of global temperature in the next 10-15 years. This would be similar to the global cooling that was experienced between the mid-1940s to mid-1970s.

Reducing atmospheric CO2 will not by itself solve any of the globe’s many environmental problems. A slightly warmer globe due to CO2 increases would, in the net, likely be more beneficial to humankind than a slightly cooler globe. Crop and vegetation growth would be stimulated by higher amounts of atmospheric CO2. We should not allow ourselves to be stampeded into costly CO2 reduction programs of little or no real benefit but much economic detriment.

William Gray is a professor emeritus of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, where he has worked since 1961. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in geophysical science.