Joubert on climate change science

(September 29, 2011) An article in The Gauntlet questions climate extremism and introduces some respected scientists who reject global warming.

Global warming is one of the most debated scientific topics of our generation. Instead of just being a climate phenomenon, it has become an unimaginably powerful force in politics and in the media. It is the subject of political protests resembling the past cries against the Vietnam War, and the voices keep getting more and more apocalyptic. But before I start voicing a few queries about this scientifically mysterious phenomenon, a few words on environmentalism in general. I think we can all agree that dumping a load of hazardous waste into wetlands, or releasing gallon upon gallon of oil into the oceans, causing the destruction of wildlife, is morally reprehensible. Efforts of conservation and discouraging water pollution are admirable and noble. There are several excellent reasons why air pollution should also be discouraged, but not for the reason that the world’s going to end. These issues seem to be a long shot from the extremism usually surrounding the global warming debate.

Climate fluctuations have been occurring throughout human history. Lawrence Solomon, a prominent environmentalist and activist, published in his 1990 book, The Deniers, a graph which showed a time during the middle-ages in which it was very warm, warmer than today (the Medieval Warm Period). This was long before the Al Gore famous hockey-stick graph of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. After this warmer period, humanity descended into what came to be known as the “Little Ice Age.” But, of course, Michael Mann came in with the hockey stick graph, which showed the climate becoming hotter over the past few decades, claiming to eliminate the pre-hockey-stick graph.

However, Edward Wegman, an expert in statistical issues (past chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, board member of the American Statistical Association, and past president of the International Association of Statistical Computing) concluded, after being asked by the American Congress to assess the graph, that the “paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millenium claim essentially unverifiable.” After this the hockey stick graph disappeared.

There is also a period further back in human history that is known to climatologists as the “Holocene Maximum,” in which, for more than three millennia, the Earth was much warmer than it is today. Europe’s and America’s sudden, proper winter in the beginning of 2011 is, I suppose, a small-scale example of natural climate fluctuation.

I mentioned the book, The Deniers, in which Solomon describes the distinguished scientists who deny the reality and significance of global warming. Among these scientists are Duncan Wingham, a physicist, who was appointed chair of the Department of Space and Climate Physics and head of the Department of Earth Sciences in 2005. Recent happenings in the area of scientists and global warming include an incident with Ivan Giaever, winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize in physics, who resigned from the American Physical Society because of its “incontrovertible” stance on global warming.

Another scientist who resigned from APS for its stance on global warming is Harold Lewis, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California and former department chairman. In his resignation letter he refers to the climategate scandal, which shows evidence of climatologists in favor of global warming manipulating data. Why, you ask, would they do this? The amount of dollars that are constantly connected with the term “climate change” or “global garming” are sky high. A recent indication of this is the green jobs that the Obama government is throwing money at ($500 million, to be precise). Another surprising scientist who has voiced his dissidence with global warming is Antonino Zichichi, professor of Advanced Physics at the University of Bologna, president of the Enrico Fermi Center, Rome, and president of the World Federation of Scientists (with 10,000 scientists from 115 countries). Zichichi has received awards and honorary degrees from universities in Italy, Argentina, China, Germany, Poland and the United States.

Many of the scientists in The Deniers have as impressive resumes as Zichichi. So, I decided to give a fuller profile of him to illustrate the caliber of scientist who thinks that global warming is untrue. Zichichi is past president of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics and president of the NATO Science Committee for Disarmament Technology. The published scientific papers (exceeding 800) and the 10 books he has written have shed light on new opportunities for research in subnuclear physics.

Al Gore admonishes us to accept the argument from authority concerning global warming and accept the word of the scientists who endorse it, but what are we to make of these deniers? What are scientists like Antonino Zuchichi and Edward Wegman doing on the side that Al Gore compared to flat-earthers? I was astounded, taking a course in physical anthropology, that when the text-book writers turned to global warming, how the footnotes suddenly ran dry. Were they the victim of an abrupt bout of lethargy or is something else going on?

To the extent that global warming has increased awareness of the environment and encouraged respect for our planet, it is definitely good, but I do not believe it right to create unnecessary fear. To contend that there is a scientific consensus on global warming is outright deception. To confirm this visit petitionproject.org, which claims that 31,478 American scientists have signed a petition that strongly conveys their dissonance with Global Warming. However, I might well be wrong. So, in the event that I am misguided, get ready! Watch and tremble in fear. The end draws near, the apocalypse is here!

A. Louis Joubert, The Gauntlet, September 29 2011

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