By Charles Clough
Advocates of climate change alarm, like those meeting in Paris this week at the United Nations’ “COP21” climate summit, constantly sing the refrain that skeptics of dangerous manmade global warming are all funded by evil fossil fuel corporations.
That certainly does not represent the meteorological community in which I have worked for the past 40+ years.
The blunt fact is that funding for the view that man is the primary cause of climate change is hundreds of times greater than funding for those of us within the science community who argue otherwise. Most of us so-called “deniers”—a pejorative slogan that is the old “strawman fallacy”—are self-funded or volunteers.
Here are the logical arguments—not the political slogans that dominate the culture:
- The current warming of the past 150 years is NOT unprecedented. There have been similar periods in the past 2000 years of documented history none of which could have been caused by fossil fuel emissions, since they didn’t exist then.
- We “deniers” clearly are NOT denying global warming over the past 150 or even 50 years. What we are denying is that man is the dominant cause of GW—something impossible to confirm if one doesn’t know the natural causes of previous warming in at least a semi-quantitative way, which at this time we do not know.
- All the climate models are over-predicting warming. This appears to be because the models are amplifying the CO2 warming effect by assuming that water vapor has a positive feedback—an assumption that has NOT been clearly shown.
- There is no evidence that extreme weather events have increased in frequency or magnitude during the past century of record-keeping, let alone that any such increase would have been caused by global warming, let alone by the specifically human contribution to that warming.
- CO2 is plant food, not a pollutant, and as it has increased, satellite data show an increase in plant growth, not a decline. That means more food, not less, for animals and people alike. All greenhouse owners know why, because they deliberately inject CO2 into their greenhouses to make the plants grow faster.
- What is happening funding wise is exactly what Eisenhower predicted in his famous 1961 Farewell Speech that most folks remember from his comments about the “military-industrial complex.” What most folks don’t realize is that only a few paragraphs later he also mentioned the incestuous relationship between scientific research and federal funding. He warned that instead of the classical scientific activity of curiosity-driven work, the nation would have to face a politically driven scientific effort that takes on a life of its own. I can speak knowledgeably about this dynamic since I was involved while working in the Department of Defense in transferring funds to the major federal research center for atmospheric science.
- Finally, the powerful Christian ethical objection to what world leaders seem to be doing in Paris is that curtailing fossil fuel usage prior to a replacement that is equally widely available, low-cost, and capable of consistent energy production (in contrast to wind and solar) will escalate energy costs. That will hurt the poor most of all, suppressing undeveloped cultures (that we evangelicals spend millions trying to help become productive) from rising out of poverty, leaving them to burn dung, drink foul water, and chop down valuable forest resources.
Every major choice has risk and reward. The public debate about global warming so far has considered only the risk of “doing nothing,” but not the risk of doing a global suppression of the best available cheap energy source.
That’s why, along with several hundred other scientists and growing numbers of laymen, I’ve signed An Open Letter on Climate Change to the People, their Local Representatives, the State Legislatures and Governors, the Congress, and the President of the United States of America, and why thousands are signing a brief petition, Forget “Climate Change,” Energy Empowers the Poor.
Charles Clough is a meteorologist, Retired Chief of the US Army Atmospheric Effects Team at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and a pastor and theologian.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.