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US Senator Orrin Hatch
Climate Change 101

“Climate Change” has become synonymous with “Global Warming.” Both terms are used in describing the hypothesis that the earth is warming unnaturally due to human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a greenhouse gas (GHG).

CO2

CO2 is a basic and natural ingredient of life on earth. It makes up the bubbles in our soda, the air we exhale from our lungs, and the gas that plants breathe. Independent of any human activity, vast quantities of carbon and carbon dioxide cycle continuously through the earth’s surface, our oceans, and our atmosphere.

Several scientific studies conclude that with higher CO2 levels in the air, plants become more hardy and thrive better even with significantly less water. For this reason, it is a common practice for commercial greenhouses to pump in CO2 to boost plant growth. CO2 is the ultimate plant food.1

References to CO2 as a “pollutant” can be misleading. Unlike conventional pollutants, CO2 is a clean, invisible gas and does not normally cause direct harm to our environment or to our bodies. Combustion from carbon-based fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, where it joins other GHGs and helps to warm the planet. Because combustion can also emit conventional pollutants such as particulate matter and harmful gases into the air, these pollutants are often inaccurately associated with CO2.

Land disturbance, such as agricultural plowing, also releases large amounts of CO2 gas into the atmosphere. There is serious debate over whether this aspect of the production of ethanol fuel should be factored into ethanol’s carbon footprint.2

Human activities such as transportation, electricity use, and farming release an extra level of CO2 into the atmosphere. Some argue this increases the greenhouse effect leading to an extra warming of the earth.

The Greenhouse Effect

The primary source of energy to the earth-atmosphere-ocean system is the sun. About 30 percent of the sun’s energy hitting the earth is reflected back into space (known as the albedo effect). The other 70 percent of the sun’s energy is absorbed in land surfaces, in oceans, and in greenhouse gases which collect in the earth’s upper Troposphere. The Troposphere is the layer of the atmosphere we live in, and greenhouse gases absorb and radiate the sun’s energy within this area making the earth habitable for animal life.

It is generally accepted that a balance exists between the incoming energy from the sun and the energy eventually released out of the Troposphere. In the chart below you will see that of the incoming energy from the sun, there is an equal amount of energy released back out of the atmosphere. The six sources of heat loss in the chart add up to 100 percent of the incoming energy from the sun.


Nicholas M. Short - METEOROLOGY - WEATHER AND CLIMATE: A CONDENSED PRIMER

Many scientists support the hypothesis that human-emitted CO2 is warming the planet.  (Of course, scientist support for a hypothesis is irrelevant to whether or not it is true. Good science dictates that only observational evidence can support a hypothesis, but more on that later.) Human-caused warming is referred to as anthropogenic global warming (AGW). According to the AGW hypothesis, this extra blanket disrupts the balance between incoming and outgoing energy by holding in more energy than would otherwise be absorbed. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) has claimed that most of the warming observed over the past century can be attributed to AGW. However, contrary to most media reports, there is not a consensus on this question, even among UN IPCC scientists (UN Climate Scientists Speak Out).

There is also some disagreement among scientists as to whether global warming – regardless of its cause – would result in a net benefit or detriment to life on earth. Scientific studies demonstrate overwhelmingly that humans tend to fare better during warming spells than periods of cooling.3


Greenhouse Gases

The main GHGs are water vapor, CO2, and methane. However, water vapor is, by far, the dominant GHG. In equal volumes, water vapor has a significantly higher warming factor than CO2. Besides its higher warming factor, water vapor is also much more prevalent as a GHG than CO2. The volume of water vapor in the atmosphere is not constant, but the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that water vapor makes up 95 percent of all greenhouse gases, naturally emitted CO2 makes up only 4.7 percent of GHGs, and human-emitted CO2 makes up only 0.3 percent of all GHGs.4    To reemphasize this fact – because it is so often under emphasized by the popular media and the UN – CO2 has significantly less power to warm per volume than water vapor, AND it makes up a much smaller volume of GHGs compared to water vapor.

Methane is a powerful but very minor greenhouse gas in terms of volume and is, therefore, not calculated in the graph below.



 
The small role CO2 plays as a greenhouse gas explains why the IPCC climate models do not attribute warming directly to human-emitted CO2.  Rather, the models incorporate an assumption that the very small amount of warming from human CO2 creates an increase in water vapor and a decrease in clouds, and this new water vapor  –  which has a greater warming factor than CO2  –  combined with fewer clouds actually creates the additional warming that has been the cause for alarm. This indirect warming effect is referred to as positive feedback. The positive feedback hypothesis has not been proven and remains a controversial hypothesis, but it is an extremely important assumption in the IPCC models. For without the positive feedback assumption, the models would show an insignificant level of warming from human CO2 emissions.  In other words, according to the UN models, a human impact on the climate disappears if the postitive feedback hypothesis fails to be supported by real-world evidence.

One of the Lead Authors of the IPCC reports is renown MIT climate scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen. He recently completed a study that explains why temperatures have remained steady or cooled over the last decade, while CO2 has steadily risen.  His peer-reviewed study disproves the positive feedback hypothesis and, thereby, the accuracy of the UN’s models and the AGW hypothesis.5


United Nations IPCC Models

A large portion of the IPCC’s understanding and projections of future climate is based on its complex computer models called general circulation models (GCMs). As with any computer model, GCMs can only be as accurate as the assumptions and the data entered into them.

How does the use of computer models fit into the scientific method? The scientific method depends on at least four general steps. Step 1: Identifying a problem or question; Step 2: Developing a hypothesis; Step 3: Testing the hypothesis using experiments and observations; and Step 4: Drawing a conclusion about a hypothesis based on observations. Only after the experiments and observations consistently confirm a hypothesis can it legitimately be elevated to a theory.6

At best, an IPCC computer model serves in Step 2 as a hypothesis. GCMs do not provide evidence, observations, or even predictions. Rather, these models simply project hypothetical scenarios into the future. There appears to be a great deal of confusion by the media and others who believe that computer models can provide evidence for or support for the AGW hypothesis. They fail to
understand that the AGW hypothesis is an assumption of the models, so the models are forced to reflect that assumption. Although it is rarely reported by the media, there is abundant scientific evidence from real-world observations disproving the accuracy of the IPPC model projections.7

In the chart, below, we see that, even in the short term, IPCC GCMs cannot forecast real-world temperatures. However, we are asked to trust the GCM forecasts 100 years into the future.


The IPCC’s predicted warming path (pink region) bears no relation to the global cooling that has been observed in the
21st century to date.Source: SPPI global temperature index.


 
 
The next chart shows how the IPCC GCMs have over-projected the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over time, another indication that the IPCC models are faulty, even in the short run.


Well below the IPCC’s projected range (pale blue region), the rate of increase in CO2 concentration has
slowed from 204 ppmv/century in January 2009 to 202 ppmv/century now. Data source: NOAA.

 

The Golden Age of the Ad Hominem

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes the Ad Hominem fallacy as “1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect 2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made.”

When an opinion is confronted with a contradictory fact or potentially damaging question, a useful but dishonest response is to change the subject with an Ad Hominem dodge, or one of its cousin fallacies: the Inverse Ad Hominem dodge or the Appeal to Authority dodge.

The use of this family of logical fallacies has reached its historical zenith recently as climate alarmists, with help from the media, attempt to ignore, dodge or deflect challenges to the AGW hypothesis. First, the alarmists attempt to shut off all questions by asserting that the debate is over. This strategy is supported further by continually ignoring any scientific challenge that may arise. When a challenge cannot be ignored, an Ad Hominem distraction is often supplied.

The chair of the IPCC, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, helped to demonstrate parts of this strategy recently when he was asked about scientists who are skeptical about the IPCC’s conclusions. His response was,

There is, even today, a Flat Earth Society that meets every year to say the earth is flat. The science about climate change is very clear. There really is no room for doubt at this point.

The statement that “there is no room for doubt” runs contrary to the spirit of scientific inquiry.

Imagine that an oil company paid a serial rapist with a 5th grade education to ask a question which challenges the consensus of ten thousand climate scientists. The philosophy of science would dictate that the relevant question be addressed based on scientific evidence without reference to the challenger’s motives, character, or lack of education, because these factors are irrelevant to the question at hand and serve only as distractions from real scientific inquiry. The use of this type of Ad Hominem dodge is a shameful but common practice by climate alarmists and the media.


Carbon Reduction Efforts

European nations are attempting to reduce carbon emissions through a Cap-and-Trade system, whereby allocations are auctioned and traded among various stakeholders. The allocations could be considered permissions to emit carbon dioxide. Over time, participating governments reduce the amount of allocations auctioned, thus forcing down emission levels. Stakeholders with more allocations than needed may trade or sell them to stakeholders who need them.

The House of Representatives has already approved a similar Cap-and-Trade proposal for the United States, referred to as the Waxman/Markey Bill. It is now up to the Senate to decide whether to pass a similar measure, referred to as the Boxer/Kerry Bill.

In 2007, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Massachusetts V. EPA that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is authorized to regulate carbon emissions for vehicles if the Agency determines that CO2 poses an endangerment to human life. Based on a negative view of CO2‘s warming potential, the EPA has proposed two regulations to initiate this activity and is expected to move forward to regulate emissions from stationary sources, as well.


UN IPCC

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has produced four Assessment Reports, each updating the last, of the impact human activity has on our climate and of the various impacts climate change would have on our civilization and planet.

Chapters of the Assessments are authored by scientists and other experts. Each chapter is then reviewed by experts throughout the world. Much is said about the consensus of 2,500 (or sometimes 4,000) UN scientists who support the AGW hypothesis. Many of those scientists referred to are actually the reviewers of the various chapters of the IPCC reports. The Fourth Assessment Report had only one chapter making the claim that "Greenhouse gas forcing has very likely caused most of the observed global warming over the last 50 years.” That chapter was reviewed by only 62 scientists.

There is certainly not a consensus among the IPCC Authors, Lead Authors, and Expert Reviewers about the AGW hypothesis. Despite the common assertion by the media that, except for a few fringe scientists, a scientific consensus exists on climate change, some of the most qualified UN IPCC scientists maintain a very skeptical view of the AGW hypothesis. You may see their views for yourself and make your own judgement as to their qualifications by reading my report, which I referred to above, UN Climate Scientists Speak Out.

- Senator Orrin G. Hatch


 
 


 The UN Side of the Story
 The Other Side of the Story
UN IPCC Climate 2007 Synthesis Report
A Summary of the Various Studies of the IPCC

UN Climate Scientists Speak Out on Global Warming
What Some UN IPCC Scientists Say About Climate Change

IPCC Chief, Dr. R.K. Pachauri Senate Testimony
Before a Senate Hearing on Climate Change Feb 25, 2009

Princeton Professor William Happer Senate Testimony
Before a Senate Hearing on Climate Change Feb 25, 2009

UN IPCC Summary for Policymakers 2007
A Summary of UN science as a Guide for Policymakers

Climate Change Reconsidered
Comprehensive scientific answer to the IPPC Reports
The Official UN IPCC Site
http://www.ipcc.ch/

The U.S. Senate Minority Report
Quotations from more than 700 International Scientists

Governor Jon Huntsman’s BRAC on Climate Change
http://www.deq.utah.gov/BRAC_Climate/

Utah Climate Change - 2008
Real data related to Climate Trends in Utah

 

Cap and Trade: The Cost to Utah
A review of economic studies of Waxman/Markey and the impact it would have on the price of food, gasoline, and power for Utahns

Pew Center on Global Climate Change
http://www.pewclimate.org/

 

Science and Public Policy Institute
http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/

 

Natural Resource Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/

Large Resource for Peer-reviewed Climate Science
http://co2science.org/

  

Popular Alarmist Blog
http://www.realclimate.org/

Heartland Institute - Global Warming Facts
http://www.globalwarmingheartland.org/

 

Popular Alarmist Blog
http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/

Popular Skeptical Blog
http://wattsupwiththat.com/

 
 
 
 
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4.    Makeup of Greenhouse Gases

S.M. Freidenreich and V. Ramaswamy, “Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water, and a Parameterization for General Circulation Models,” Journal of Geophysical Research 98 (1993):7255-7264.

U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Agency Alternatives to Traditional Transportation Fuels 1994 Volume 2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Appendix D Greenhouse Gas Spectral Overlaps and Their Significance: “Given the present composition of the atmosphere, the contribution to the total heating rate in the troposphere is around 5 percent from carbon dioxide and around 95 percent from water vapor.”

5.    Positive Feedback Disproved

Lindzen Richard S. and Yong-Sang ON THE DETERMINATION OF CLIMATE FEEDBACKS FROM ERBE DATA Choi | July 24, 2009

Others

Global Warming as a Natural Response to Cloud Changes Associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) October 20, 2008 (updated December 29, 2008) – by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Cloud and Radiation Budget Changes Associated with Tropical Intraseasonal Oscillations August 9, 2007 – by Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell, John R. Christy, and Justin Hnilo.

6.    Limitations of Comput

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