NASA extinguishes global-warming fire

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NASA extinguishes global-warming fire
Patrick Michaels
Published 2/3/2002
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It really happened. The NASA scientist who lit the bonfire of the global warming vanities with his flamboyant congressional testimony 14 years ago, has turned the hose on its dying embers.

There is now no reason for the Bush administration to give an inch on climate change. Sure, energy efficient technologies (like my Honda hybrid) are worth exploring. But there is absolutely no scientific reason for any expensive policy like the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Mr. Bush led the world by being the first to walk away from Kyoto, and science has proven him correct.

NASA's James Hansen now predicts precisely the same, small amount of warming in the next 50 years that the much-derided "climate skeptics" predicted all along. According to both the skeptics and Mr. Hansen, the planet is destined for a mere 0.7 degree Centigrade (1.25 degree Fahrenheit) warming between now and 2050. It's a good thing "W" listened to those skeptics before he decided on Kyoto. If he had waited for NASA, he might have committed the United States down the road to an unwarranted economic disaster for no good reason.

How did Mr. Hansen, once the darling of the green apocalyptics, come to adopt the scientific position they detest? Nature compelled, and NASA disposed.

The "skeptics" have argued, beginning in congressional testimony in 1989, that warming was likely to be the aforementioned low value because it had been so modest in previous decades, despite major changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, the two principal "greenhouse" gases.

The skeptics' (the strange name we give to those who think the planet is OK) logic was simple: Nature had declared, despite the protestations of climate modelers and other tax-consumers, just how sensitive the Earth's surface temperature was to changes in global-warming gases. The answer: not very.

Climate models, such as those run by NASA, initially assumed that the sensitivity was much larger than it was in reality, and, consequently, those models predicted more warming than had occurred in reality. When this became embarrassingly obvious even to the non-"skeptics," my colleagues, ever-eager to keep the gravy train rolling, argued that some other compound, called sulfate aerosol, must be "hiding" the warming.

That one didn't wash for several reasons, not the least of which is that warming might even be the net effect of those human dust emissions. This was first noted way back in 1980 by other NASA scientists. But that finding was of little consequence until Mr. Hansen resurrected it in a paper published in 1997.

If nothing is "blocking" the warming, then the climate isn't as sensitive as the climate modelers had assumed. In addition, the climate modelers in general predicted that greenhouse gases themselves were piling up in the atmosphere much faster than they were. Atmospheric physics dictates that warming will damp off unless the gases go into the atmosphere in ever-increasing, exponential fashion.

Mr. Hansen slowly threw in the towel. After noting in 1997 that sulfates might actually cause little (if any) cooling (a position the "skeptics" had long held), he noted, in a 1999 paper, that greenhouse gases weren't increasing so rapidly after all (another fact the "skeptics" had been noting for years). Finally, in two papers in 2000 and 2001, he argued that all of the uncertainty about the planet's true sensitivity to warming dictated that we listen to nature, after all.

So, in his last paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mr. Hansen and Makiko Sato wrote, "We predict an additional warming in the next 50 years of 3/4 plus or minus 1/4 degree Centigrade [1.35 plus or minus 0.5 degree Fahrenheit]" , which sounds an awful lot like page 210 of "The Satanic Gases," which I authored two years earlier with Robert Balling: "The Earth's average surface temperature will warm 0.65 to 0.75 degrees Centigrade (1.17 degrees to 1.35 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050." The only difference is that we have been using virtually the same number since Mr. Hansen's 1988 testimony.

Where are the reporters? Somewhere between Enron and September 11, you would think that the death of global warming would merit a feature or two unless, of course, it's the kind of news that they don't want you to hear.

We can only eagerly await the upcoming congressional hearings on Mr. Bush's vs. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's energy plans. The former wants oil from Alaska, and the latter wants to restrict combustion because of global warming. Perhaps Mr. Hansen could be called to testify alongside the skeptics.

In all fairness, Mr. Hansen still calls for emissions reductions. That position seems remarkably illogical, except that it is likely to keep him from being stoned by the greens, who feel increasingly betrayed by their once-apocalyptic hero, the man who hosed down global warming.

Patrick J. Michaels is senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute and author of "The Satanic Gases."

-- William in WI (gnarledmaw@lycos.com), February 05, 2002

Answers

The NASA scientist who lit the bonfire of the global warming vanities with his flamboyant congressional testimony 14 years ago, has turned the hose on its dying embers.

What "dying embers"? Are you saying that one person changing his mind renders all the other evidence invalid?

I don't think so. I don't know what all the evidence "had" been saying as far as how many degrees warming were predicted in the next fifty years, but even one degree F seems pretty darn significant to me.

I am not a "true believer" in global warming. I believe, however, that the preponderance of evidence calls for caution, because it seems to be a fact. Further study (while we continue being cautious) may prove that global warming is not a problem, but all I've read so far doesn't give me great hope.

I won't list all the evidence; it's all out there.

-- joj (jump@off.c), February 06, 2002.


There's more to emmisions of sulfates and other toxins other than the possibility of global warming.One is ,I don't like the feeling of using my lungs and kidneys as a filter for these toxins.These toxins bond to water which our bodies consist of over 90%.And to assume that the Kyoto Protocol on global warming would lead the U.S. to an economic disaster is irrational thinking. It might change where the majority of the wealth ends up (maybe). New inovated inventions would find dollars to back-up their research and would create new products that pollute less.New products good or bad (the computor for instance) stimulate the economy. It might be a good time to stimulate the economy. In what way is reducing emmisions illogical? You don't need to be a rocket scientist to be able to feel the air quality every year is getting progressively worse.Ask anyone with asthma , they tell ya.

-- SM Steve (notrealmail@msn.com), February 06, 2002.

If the air has been getting worse, why does the EPA and many other recognized groups say that air quality has been steadily improving each year since the 70"s .

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), February 06, 2002.

Uhh, is this a trick question? Is it because the EPA is a puppet for the WTO?

-- joj (jump@off.c), February 07, 2002.

I guess it's because those organization you mention have a better air filtring system on the air coditioners in their offices where they spend most of their awake hours , then they had 30 years ago.(punch line to the joke) Where I live in the southeast ,they show comparative photos of mountains ranges at national parks here from 30 years ago to compare with the present.Areas that had over a hundred miles distance of viewing range on an average day now have a viewing distance of about 30 miles on a average day.But I don't let others influence my opinion of how good or bad the air quality is.I've noticed other significant problems 4 years ago that have the scientist or biologist concerned in the area,they just came to the conclusion last year.The trees are getting sick in the area due to what they say is air pollution damage.Most specialist EPA, FDA,and other federal workers are more into the dental benifits, vaction and paid sick days and their retirement pension then being concerned over health and well being of people and planet.It's a job career that attracted them to those jobs not cause they wanted to to good for mankind.In other words it pays better then flippin burgers yet you don't have to strain the brain anymore then a burger flipper does in doing his job.I think that anyone who can't feel the low oxegen content of the air and the toxic gases that replace it are either highly unsensitive or don't pay attention to the way their body feels, are one of the genetically strong that will survive an envirormental holocaust or indulge in intoxicant sustances that make them comfortably numb to the effects.Maybe the air is better in WI then it is in the southeast,but I'd think that believing in statistics on paper, although they might hold well in a court of law, does little when it comes to evaluating the reality of what is.

-- SM Steve (notrealmail@msn.com), February 07, 2002.


SMSteve, sorry about your air quality; our air out here in orygun is still excellent, unless you live in a medium to large sized city (our biggest, though is a lot smaller than most states' medium sized cities) or on an interstate highway.

One way I've been able to confirm bad air quality,and the fact that the air is getting much worse, is from my experience travelling by commercial airlines. Used to be, when I was a young man, you could see "forever" from the plane. Now, when I look out the window, I see very dirty, brown air--almost every time I fly. It looks kind of like a dilute form of the smog over San Francisco's East Bay area (where all the oil refineries are)

-- joj (jump@off.c), February 07, 2002.


Joj, it is my impression that the entire Northern Hemisphere, except the far north, is tinted with a brown haze when viewed from an aircraft. Not quite so noticeable down here at 43 degrees south!

-- john hill (john@cnd.co.nz), February 07, 2002.

"The sky is falling! The Sky Is Falling!" Seems to me that we were supposed to learn this lesson sometime during grade school. This whole post just goes to show that people want to believe in global warming because it suits them. The simple truth is that the earth is continuing in it's natural cycle while Chicken Little runs around making money and restricting other's freedom with an acorn that fell on her head. So here is the moral once again to our little nursery school story.

Don't be afraid. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. The sky is not falling.

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (littlebit@farm.com), February 07, 2002.


JOJ ,I know you Oregonians value clean air.I've regretted leaving the Cave Junction area since 1980.My brother moved back and he's trying to get me to move back. Little Bit , the warming of the globe isn't bad as long as the earths vegetation can handle it and it's part of the natural cycle you mention. It's that arsenic, mecurury,sulfites,and all those natural ingrdients that have been dislodged from under ground and mixed in the air and water we breath and drink. I find these things in the air as repulsive as sewage in ones drinking water.Sewage is natural.It's not a fear but it lowers the quality of life greatly.The measures taken to prevent global warming (if peoplemade factors were responsible) would also reduce those chemicals in the air and water.I'm not into takeing away freedoms.I'd like to see freedoms inforced .But think about it,federal and state laws prohibit people from the smoking (breathing in )of certain herbs because they are considered bad for the health, on the other hand I have these provenly dangerous gases , in my area (mercury, arsenic) in the air and I am forced to breath them weather I like it or not.And no law to protect mine or others health .That takes away my freedom of the right to breath clean air.

-- SM Steve (notrealmail@msn.com), February 08, 2002.

LBF, I can't claim to believe things "because I want to", as you of the faith are so additcted to.

I judge things by learning as many of the facts as possible. All the facts are not in, but it seems intuitively obvious that there are serious problems. Sky falling? Don't think so.

You said, "This whole post just goes to show that people want to believe in global warming because it suits them"

Seems to me that your attitude proves the converse can be true, as well.

Steve, CJ is still a fine place; I have several friends out that way. There is NO place quite like the Illinois Valley! And yes, the air is still very clean, except in spring and fall when USFS and BLM are still slash burning thousands of acres, instead of utilizing this wood, while we are still getting guilt tripped for burning wood to heat our homes!

Hope you can get it together to move back out here; we need more people with your mind set. LBF: STAY!

-- joj (jump@off.c), February 09, 2002.



i want to global pictures and details please send me naw thank you

-- hyyat ansari (hyyat-2004@yahoo.co.in), June 02, 2004.

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