Fast Focus 'What should we do about global warming?' Financial considerations

February 10, 2013 

We have an entire industry, spending billions of dollars and euros, devoted to finding global warming. And when you spend that kind of money you are going to find something. The problem with how this is conducted is that if a scientist is not dedicated to promoting the concept that man is behind global warming they aren't likely to get their research funded or the results published. There is much to be skeptical about the state of global warming research. For starters, there is a commonly held notion that carbon dioxide is a positive feedback system. That is to say as more CO2 is generated, more CO2 will be created, causing global warming runaway. This motivates many scientists to say that we have a crisis which must be addressed immediately, or the future of the Earth will be at stake. The problem is there is absolutely no scientific basis for this. CO2 is, in reality, a result of warming, not its cause. All living organisms generate CO2; when the Earth warms, more CO2 generating organisms are created. The data supports this.

Another fallacy is the pronouncement that we are experiencing the warmest temperatures is the recorded history of the Earth (Mann et.al. 1998). You see their famous "hockey stick" temperature graph published over and over again. But a critical review by McIntyre and McKitrick (tinyurl/manndata) of their methods reveals "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principal components and other quality control defects," and the hockey stick graph "is primarily an artifact of poor data handling, obsolete data and incorrect calculation of principal components."

Worse still, the remedies proffered by global warming alarmists, such as a "carbon tax," are unworkable and well as unjustified. I have listened to them say the answer was $4 gas. That, obviously, was a few years ago. Now they are saying $8. Obama is saying climate change is his top priority: Hold on tight to your wallets!

-- TOM SEIM, Richland

Improving air quality

First of all, it would be nice if the Al Gores of the world would acknowledge that: A) There was dramatic global climate change going on long before man showed up. B) There are many different factors which influence climate change. C) Many of those factors (such as volcanic activity) are completely beyond the influence of humans. D) "Experts" don't know everything yet and probably never will.

That being said, there are plenty of good reasons to work toward improving air quality. There are things that we in the U.S. can do, but many serious issues require efforts outside of the USA. Dealing with coal mine fires and global reforestation are two such items. We never hear anything about coal mine fires, but according to Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) there are large coal mine fires which have been burning around the globe for more than 130 years! C&EN believes that these fires are major contributors of greenhouse gases. Most of these fires are in China, some are in India. Apparently, nothing is being done to put them out. Deforestation is rarely mentioned. One of the earliest science principles I learned was that animals take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide while plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. If you remove large amounts of plants, that by itself alters the carbon dioxide/oxygen balance. Deforestation has occurred all over the planet. How many of us know, for instance, that the now-barren Easter Island was covered with trees before the folks showed up who erected all those giant head sculptures?

Closer to home, we suffered a great deal from forest fire smoke last summer. Every few years, forestry experts re-evaluate forest management practices, conclude they've been doing things wrong and initiate changes. Do they have things right now? Probably not. Locally, we have great quantities of chemicals (mostly agricultural) sprayed on us each year. It would be nice to have that reduced. We also suffer locally from smoke from agricultural burning. There are many days each summer when I cannot safely work in my yard due to chemical sprays or ag burning. I've even had smoke detectors inside my house tripped by smoke from an agricultural burn several miles away. I don't recall that there was any local agricultural burning before the early 1980s. It would be nice to see that eliminated.

My personal theory is that global warming is caused primarily by hot air coming from politicians and I sure don't have a cure for that!

-- MARILYN YOUNG, Pasco

Common sense

I am not a denier but I am a skeptic -- a seeker of the truth which seems to be in short supply in the climate change, now global warming controversy. I'm not smart enough to follow all the esoteric theories and statistical data, much less deciding which side is correct. I can only ask questions and hope that someone can provide credible answers.

We spend billions of dollars trying to reduce CO2, which is a minor atmospheric gas necessary for life. To what level should it be reduced to?

We all know that weather is cyclic, so how can the climatologists predict what will happen decades in the future knowing that the concentration of man-made CO2 is only one component?

The Earth has had five major ice ages. What caused the Earth to warm after each ice age? Water vapor is a much larger driver of the weather so why are we concentrating on CO2? Maybe it's because we can tax carbon and not water vapor.

The infamous hockey stick graph was proposed in 1999 when it was reported that the atmospheric CO2 was 390 ppm. What is the CO2 concentration now?

Unless the ecocondriacs can answer these questions -- and many more -- I suggest we do nothing.

-- JIM WATKINS, Pasco

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