The Data Weigh In
Cold, Hard Facts
Little White Exaggeration
Scientific research based on factnot ideology
is what the Democrats 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. Bushs record on science, including the Administrations
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 earths 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
Fact #2. During the past several decades, earths
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
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
This means the earths
biosphere has responded by increasing its rate of carbon dioxide
uptake. This is evidenced by Fact #2 enhanced global
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
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 temperaturewhat 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.
48 Nobel Prize
Winners Toss Aside Scientific Method for Political Purposes
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
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
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 Kerrys 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.
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 hasnt been tested. Its not authoritative,
scientific or persuasive. It is merely political.