Global Warming, Chapter Four

August 13, 2007 at 5:39 am (Climatology, College Related, Global Warming, Politics)

Chapter Four:
Holes in the Skeptic’s Arguments

It seemed that the skeptics had a point; however, McIntyre and McKitrick’s research has also been criticized for leaving out North American tree ring data from the calculations. According to Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler for NASA, and Caspar Ammann, a climate scientist for the National Center for Atmospheric Researches, leaving North American tree ring data out greatly affects the outcome of the graph. McIntyre and McKitrick’s articles did not show that Mann’s math had been incorrect, but showed that when North American tree ring data was left out, a different graph emerged. The question therefore, was whether or not the data should have been left out. Schmidt and Ammann contend that the data should not have been left out because it changes the validation statistics of the data used (Schmidt and Ammann, 16th paragraph).

Inconsistent Science

Scientists have long related rises in earth’s temperature to rises in CO2, however technology was not always available to prove that a warming of the earth’s surface was occuring. A scientist by the name of Patrick J. Michaels wrote an essay titled Facts Fail to Back Warming Theory in 1987. In it, Michaels writes, “In spite of the current increase in CO2, and despite the headlines, there’s precious little evidence that the Northern Hemisphere has warmed up significantly over the last fifty years” (41). Michaels is admitting that CO2 levels are rising but believes that the levels won’t affect the earth’s temperature. Almost twenty years later, Michaels admits that evidence shows that the earth’s temperature had in fact risen. In his book Shattered Consensus, Michaels quotes a scientist by the name of Robert C. Balling Jr. saying, “The evidence is overwhelming that the near-surface air temperatures have increased in the past three decades” (68). Michaels is admitting that there is evidence available that the earth is warming and yet his book sets out to prove that global warming doesn’t exist. His major point in 1987 was that there was no evidence of temperatures rising regardless of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere. Although this major point has been invalidated, and Michaels admits the earth is getting hotter, he still insists global warming has nothing to do with human activities or CO2.

Ethical Dilema: Can a Climate Scientist Gather Data Without Bias While Being Funded by Oil Companies?

One more thing a researcher has to keep in mind: many of the skeptics have their own political bias. In the book Beating the Heat, by John J. Berger, an explanation is given for the rise in skeptics of global warming. In explaining why oil, gas, auto, and other fossil-fuel dependent industries so strongly oppose the evidence of global warming, Berger writes, “Since they profit directly from the production and use of carbon based fuels, they do not want fuel sales reduced…They take an equally dim view of stronger clean air standards. Air pollution regulations impose pollution control costs on fossil fuel polluters” (60). Naomi Oreskes, a professor at the University of California, San Diego writes in Science Magazine that “Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in science” (qtd. in Berger, 38). If emissions regulations were imposed oil companies would have to spend money to update their facilities. If they can somehow get policy makers to believe there is no such thing as global warming and emissions regulations are not needed, they can continue to make the enormous profits they are making today.

Robert C. Balling admits the earth’s surface temperatures are rising, yet disregards this warming trend by saying that the lower troposphere is not warming significantly. He proposes that if greenhouse gases were causing global warming the troposphere (the area of the atmosphere 7-10 miles from the earth’s surface) would be warming at a rate consistent with the surface (68). However, he does not give an explanation of the warming trend on the Earth’s surface or for the inconsistency between the surface and the troposphere. He cannot prove that surface temperatures and temperatures in the troposphere must be consistent in order for global warming to exist.

Another significant fact about Balling’s inadequate research is the fact that it is funded by coal and oil companies, including Exxon Mobil. Balling has received upwards of $300,000 for his research (Berger 62). The oil companies will be greatly affected financially if the US passes stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions and so are against any research that proves global warming is a serious threat. It is an ethical question whether or not Balling can provide unbiased research while being paid by a biased industry.

Patrick J. Michaels, the editor of Shattered Consensus, also has a reason for opposing policy change for global warming. Sixteen percent of the funding for his research comes from the coal industry. Michaels argues that this does not make him bias, but he has admitted to receiving $210,000 from coal companies for his research (Cooper sec 5). He would be doing himself a diservice if his research argued against the people paying his salary. The oil companies don’t pay scientists that declare global warming to be a real threat and that recommend policy change to reduce emissions.

The skeptics cannot gather clear, unbiased research regarding global warming. They constantly deny global warming and attribute the evidence to nature. Although more and more evidence is published by the majority of scientists regarding the relationship between CO2 and global warming, the skeptics hold fast to their position. The reason that some of the skeptics find it so important to deny global warming is simple: their research is being funded by oil companies, the very people that are making the most money by selling fossil-fuels as a source of energy.

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