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Promises, Promises

“Scientific research based on fact—not ideology” is what the Democrat’s presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) promises. But there are some pertinent facts about global warming we can probably count on him ignoring.
     Kerry recently attacked President George W. Bush’s record on science, including the Administration’s activity on the issue of climate change. Kerry accuses Bush of underplaying threats posed by climate change and the role humans play in it, while ignoring scientific “consensus” on the issue. Yet, if we can take Kerry at his word about using science based on “fact,” then it only will be a matter of time before he stands alongside Bush concerning anthropogenic climate change. Scientific facts stand in stark contrast to the ideology of climate-change-is-catastrophic.

Fact #1. The rate of global warming during the past several decades has been about 0.18ºC per decade.
     There is no evidence that the rate of global warming is increasing. If this trend continues through the end of the 21st century, the temperature increase will have been about 1.8ºC.
     A fraction of this warming is a result of natural fluctuations in earth’s climate, as well as a consequence of other non-greenhouse-related changes (in land use, urbanization, industrialization, data quality, etc.). There also is evidence that controls on pollution caused by black carbon (or soot) could result in less warming.
     A warming of 1.8ºC is near the low end of the range projected by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2001. We can logically anticipate low-end warming will be accompanied by low-end projections of changes in sea-level and other climate-related environmental changes.

Fact #2. During the past several decades, earth’s vegetation has responded in an overwhelmingly positive fashion to changes in the climate.
     On average, the growing season has extended, primarily by beginning earlier in the spring. Total plant biomass has increased by about ten percent. This growth enhancement is due both to the fertilizing effect of the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration as well as beneficial effects of patterns of climate change around the world.

Fact #3. During the past several decades, anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have continued to rise, but the rate of build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has leveled off.
     This means the earth’s biosphere has responded by increasing its rate of carbon dioxide uptake. This is evidenced by Fact #2 — enhanced global plant growth.

Fact #4. During the past several decades (and longer), human technological advances have kept pace with, and in most cases exceeded, the rate of climate change, no matter the cause.
     By way of example, in major U.S. cities where the thermal effects of urbanization are many times larger than the effects of a change in climate, people have become less sensitive to periods of extremely high temperature—what commonly are referred to as “heat waves.” This is documented through declining heat wave mortality. Many U.S. urban areas experience no increased mortality during heat waves. The situation was vastly different only as recently as the 1980s.

Such general observations and undisputed facts should be enough to cast doubt on catastrophic climate change scenarios. They certainly are enough to warrant a cautious approach when it comes to controlling greenhouse gas emissions — an activity that is projected to cost several percentage points of U.S. GDP. They also should be enough to motivate consideration of adaptive measures to prepare for and/or take advantage of anticipated changes in climate.
     If Kerry and the activist scientists who support him think otherwise, then they are turning their backs on science-based-on-fact, not embracing it (see story that follows).

48 Nobel Prize Winners Toss Aside Scientific Method for Political Purposes

Each of us learned about the scientific method in grade school. The three steps are (come on, you can recite them from memory) — hypothesize, test and conclude.
     People judged to make the greatest contributions to human knowledge while following this basic principle win Nobel Prizes in fields such as chemistry, physics, and medicine. Forty-eight “Nobel laureates” (only one of whom worked in an area of climate) signed a letter of support for John Kerry’s candidacy. Their letter lists a bunch of things they believe the Bush Administration is doing to suppress sound science. They write:

John Kerry will change all this. He will support strong investments in science and technology as he restores fiscal responsibility. He will stimulate the development of technologies to meet our economic, energy, environmental, health, and security needs. He will recreate an America that provides opportunity to all at home and abroad who can help us make progress together. John Kerry will restore science to its appropriate place in government and bring it back into the White House.

     There are six uses of the word “will” in that paragraph. Anyone sufficiently sophisticated in political rhetoric knows the use of “will” to describe future political action is a rhetorical device. The percentage of “wills” that actually will materialize is exceedingly small. Set that aside and examine the statement. It is wholly unscientific. The signatories have put their conclusion before their hypothesis which hasn’t been tested. It’s not authoritative, scientific or persuasive. It is merely political.