by Elgin Hushbeck
I am skeptical of the theory that human activity is causing the earth to warm at a rate that is threatening. I freely admit that I am not now, nor have I ever been a climatologist, and for some this means I am not allowed to have an opinion or reach a conclusion in the matter. I am just supposed to sit down and blindly accept whatever the high priests of science pronounce. But I don’t.
I ask questions. I look at the arguments made on both sides, and have reached a conclusion that is in opposition to the consensus view. Frankly, I find that historically I am in pretty good company. At one point it ran against the scientific consensus to believe that rocks fell from the sky; only the unenlightened believe such things. Now we know that meteorites do exist.
When the theory of plate tectonics was proposed, it ran against the settled consensus view in geology, and opposition was expressed as, “If we are to believe this hypothesis, we must forget everything we learned in the last seventy years and start all over again.” (Hushbeck, 2007) Because of this its proponent, Alfred Wegener, was rejected and denounced and had to leave his country to find a teaching position, and then in another field. Then there was the scientific consensus that was Eugenics. So I do not rate consensus that highly and instead look at the evidence.
When it comes to the evidence, I have been blessed, or cursed, depending on your point of view, to have been following this debate for 40 years. And for 40 years the alarmists have been consistently wrong. They have gone from predicting a new Ice Age to Global Warming and now, since we have not been warming since the mid-90s, they cover their bases with the generic term Climate Change. In recent months, I have seen some reports about how the data has been “reevaluated” during this pause, so as to find some warming, but I remain skeptical. On several occasions in the past they have been caught, at the least, distorting the data.
More importantly for me, the alarmists have attacked anyone who disagrees with them as being somehow biased, selling their soul to big business, or just being evil. This is the irrational fallacy of ad hominem attack, and fallacies hardly make for sound arguments. In addition they actively try to suppress differing points of view. (The latter being a small part of a much larger problem of enforced conformity by the left.)
For me the four key questions are:
Are we warming? In the long run probably, as we are coming out of a Mini Ice Age and are still below the average temperature for the last 10,000 years, which itself is below the long running average. After all Greenland got is name when people lived there in settlements that are now frozen.
Are we the primary cause? Probably not, as there have been many more significant periods of warming and cooling in the past long before we could have had any impact. Given that the current claims are based on computer models that have consistently been wrong, I see no reason to hold otherwise.
Is there anything we can do about it? Even if the first two answers are yes, the plans put forth would have little if any actual effect on the climate. Any effect they had would be greatly outweighed by their negative impact on people, particularly people in the third world who would benefit the most from economic development and growth. As a Christian I do value the planet, but I value people more.
Is warming a bad thing? Probably not. It would certainly cause disruption, but considering that far more people die each year from cold related causes than from heat related causes, and much of the land mass is currently in colder regions, warming would probably be a net positive.
One other factor. As an engineer, I do know a little about control systems. The earth’s climate has numerous such systems, and if climatology is like any other science, I suspect these are far more numerous and far more complex than we now know or understand. I suspect that our lack of understanding of these systems is a primary factor in the models being so consistently wrong.
For the planet to have survived as it has this long, these systems must be robust and strong. For example, in very simple terms, increasing temperatures causes more evaporation, leading to more clouds, which reflect more sunlight out into space, cooling the planet – note until recently the climate models have not factored in cloud cover. Increased CO2 means more food for plants, and this means more plants, which then consume more CO2. If the climate was as fragile as climate alarmist claim, we would not be here in the first place as the climate would have spun out of control long ago.
So I remain skeptical. Maybe if the models had a track record of 40 years of accurate prediction, I would think otherwise, but they don’t. And until the alarmist give up their irrational arguments to support their claims, I am likely to remain skeptical.