There is a real concern that climate change can negatively impact our lives and the lives of our children. We read about the potential negative effects of climate change daily and are urged to take draconian measures or our lives may be threatened. What is the real science about climate change and what should we do — or could we — do if anything, about it.
All scientists agree that the climate periodically changes. The argument is basically this: are any significant changes today caused by human activity? How much of the changes we observe now is caused by human activity and how much is caused by the same natural processes that changed climate in the past eons?
In geologic time our planet has endured many climate changes – warm and cold – with and without catastrophic consequences to life. Geologic data documents warm and cool periods that have no relationship to the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere. The dinosaurs, the most successful species on this planet, lived 180 million years in a warm tropical climate with high CO2 levels. During the dinosaur period there was no ice at either pole. Climate obviously changed, without human interference, from a variety of drivers including oceans, cloud cover, solar radiation and volcanoes.
Americans depend on our science community to provide at least some answers to the question of what is causing the current change of climate. The press says that 97% of climate scientists claim the current climate changes are caused by the burning of fossil fuels. A close investigation of where the 97% claim originates reveals that the methodology and questions of the several papers (e.g. Dorian and Zimmerman, 2009) (Only 79 out of 3,146 responded and that is not a consensus) and others (e.g. Anderegg, 2010, Cook, 2013) who similarly claim a 97% consensus of scientists, are more than a little suspect. The 2004 “Friends of Science Society” report shows an agreement among scientists is near 50%, not 97%.
CO2 comprises only 0.04% of the atmosphere and water vapor is the most potent greenhouse gas. Evidence from ice cores clearly demonstrate that CO2 FOLLOWS temperatures. The Milankovitch Cycles (Earth’s orbit around the sun) have been shown to be the critical driver of glacial periods, clearly demonstrating that solar radiation can be a significant factor to earth’s temperatures.
Finally, science is never done by consensus. Scientists who believe we are heading toward Armageddon primarily depend on models. Climate models have proven to be unreliable and do not reflect past climate accurately. Data shows that nature and climate are cyclic. Spending trillions of dollars on government policies that rely on models and not actual data, putting people out of work. and making energy more expensive does not seem warranted in any logical world. The proposed carbon reduction proposals hurt lower-income families the most. Government policies based on known climate data and adapting to the inevitable climate changes seems a better policy.
Dinah and Douglas Shumway live in Sahuarita. Dinah is a retired economic geologist with a master’s degree from Dartmouth College. Douglas is a retired mining engineer who spent eight years as a director of the Mojave Water Agency in Apple Valley, California.