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Mankind has Insignificant Impact on Climate

by Jay Lehr
Capital Press, August 19, 2010

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant: It makes crops and forests grow faster. The earth is even greener now than it was just 20 years ago. Even if carbon dioxide were a pollutant the part contributed by man is less than 0.12 percent, and for that tiny part we would sentence the planet to programs with damaging economic impacts.

The effect of additional atmospheric carbon dioxide is limited by the amount of radiant energy. Just like adding more and more curtains to a window cuts out less and less light, so adding more carbon dioxide has a diminishing effect.

Carbon dioxide increases are not driving temperature increases; 900,000 years of ice core temperature and carbon dioxide records show that increases in carbon dioxide follow rather than lead increases in Earth temperature. This is logical because the oceans hold many times more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere, into which carbon dioxide is released as the oceans warm.

A modest amount of global warming would actually be beneficial to the natural world. The warmest period in recorded history was the Medieval Warm Period, roughly 800 to 1200 A.D., when temperatures were 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today, allowing great prosperity for mankind.

Temperature fluctuations during the current 300-year recovery from the Little Ice Age, which ended around 1700 A.D., correlate almost perfectly with fluctuations in solar activity. This correlation long predates human use of significant amounts of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. At the same time Mars, Pluto, Jupiter and the largest moon of Neptune have also been warming.

NASA satellites measuring the Earth's atmospheric temperature found 2008 to be the coldest year since 2000 and the 14th coldest of the past 30 years. Even glaciers show no trend, with some growing and others melting. One of these is Mount Kilimanjaro, but the retreating ice is not from warming, but from lack of precipitation.

Most doomsday predictions are based on computer models rather than scientific observations. But these models could not even compute our recent past, let alone the far future. It has been estimated that it would take a super computer millions of years to do even a 40-year climate projection if all the climate variables were included.

Some environmentalists predict that we will soon receive all our energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biofuels, replacing coal, oil and natural gas. Since 70 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. involves the burning of coal, natural gas or oil and another 20 percent from nuclear, real viable alternative energy is decades away. A single 555 megawatt gas-fired power plant in California generates more electricity per year than all 13,000 of the state's wind turbines.

The federal government has been investing in renewable power research and technology for decades, with virtually nothing to show for it. Billions of federal dollars are diverted to the renewable power industry every year, yet the industry still cannot come close to producing power anywhere near as economically as conventional fuel sources such as coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear.

Michael Crichton said the claim of consensus in science has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It has been a way to avoid debate by claiming a matter to be settled when, in fact, it is not. Since credible scientific evidence established that carbon dioxide from mankind has little impact on temperature and none on public health, the net result of carbon dioxide limitations will be a transfer of wealth.

Maybe you have heard that 9 of the 10 warmest years recorded in the U.S. Lower 48 states since 1880 have occurred since 1995, with the hottest being 1998. That also has been shown to be inaccurate. Less than a decade ago, the U.S. government changed the way it recorded temperatures. No one thought to correlate the new temperatures with the old ones until Canadian researcher Steve McIntyre did so, correcting the record to show that 1934 was in fact the hottest year, with 1998 second and 1921 third. Four of the 10 hottest years were in the 1930s and only three in the past decade. Eight of the 15 hottest years in the past century occurred before carbon dioxide began its recent rise.

Climate change is not a scientific problem that found political support, but about eco-activists and politicians who found a scientific issue they feel can leverage them into power and control. The environment is a great way to advance a political agenda that favors central planning and an intrusive government. What better way to control someone's property than to subordinate one's private property rights to environmental concerns?

Global warming is a major industry today. Between 1992 and 2008 the U.S. government spent $30 billion on climate change research and now contributes $6 billion a year. This finances jobs, grants, conferences, international travel and academic journals. It not only keeps a huge army of people in comfortable employment, but also fills them with self-righteousness and moral superiority, regardless of the fact that real science does not support it.

Jay Lehr holds a degree in geological engineering from Princeton University and a doctorate in ground water hydrology from the University of Arizona. He is science director for the Heartland Institute.
Mankind has Insignificant Impact on Climate
Capital Press, August 19, 2010

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