No Need to Panic About Anti-Regulatory Propaganda

Not that you didn’t know that Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal carries its fair share of anti-regulatory propaganda, but here’s a refresher in the form of an op-ed co-authored by 16 “concerned” scientists: “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”

The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2.

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere’s life cycle. Plants do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from additional CO2 in the atmosphere…

A recent study of a wide variety of policy options by Yale economist William Nordhaus showed that nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls…

Many other policy responses would have a negative return on investment. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.

What mixture of corruption and delusion motivated the penning of these lines? We may never know. Joseph Romm, at the Center for American Progress, goes apoplectic over this article (as he is wont to do) with a thorough debunking. Here’s just a part of it:

The thing about these 16 scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom have no background whatsoever in climate science, is that because they don’t know the scientific literature, they are forced to cling to out-of-date claptrap:

In 2003, Dr. Chris de Freitas, the editor of the journal Climate Research, dared to publish a peer-reviewed article with the politically incorrect (but factually correct) conclusion that the recent warming is not unusual in the context of climate changes over the past thousand years.

A nine-year-old paper?  Really guys?  If you want to know about de Freitas, DeSmogBlog has a great piece, “Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003.”

But the key point is that in the past 9 years,  there has been a National Academy of Sciences review of the literature and over a dozen  independent studies making clear that “Recent global warming is unprecedented in magnitude and speed and cause.”  Here are a few:

  1. GRL:  “We conclude that the 20th century warming of the incoming intermediate North Atlantic water has had no equivalent during the last thousand years.
  2. JGR:  “The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years.”
  3. Unprecedented warming in Lake Tanganyika and its impact on humanity (2010)
  4. Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds (2009):
  5. Sorry disinformers, hockey stick gets longer, stronger: Earth hotter now than in past 2,000 years (2008)
  6. Arctic Sea Ice Hockey Stick: Melt Unprecedented in Last 1,450 Years (2011)

we now know that the  totality of impacts of  global warming — warming, acidification, extreme weather, Dust-Bowlification — is already showing evidence of harm to the biosphere, biodiversity, and  agriculture in particular:

    Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic About Global Warming – WSJ

    This entry was posted in Accountability, Climate Change, Environmental policy, Sustainability, Risk Management, & Long-Term Security. Bookmark the permalink.

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