Questions we should be asking about global warming
By Lucas Roebuck
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- There is a delicious - albeit meaningless - irony that as Gov. Mike Beebe begins to implement the plans of his global warming commission, state offices have to close because of cold weather.
Baby, it's cold outside. It's black ice season for travelers on I-540 and U.S. 412 and all those twisty roads in the hills. Slow down when driving, get a fire going at home, and be sure to wear a heavy coat and gloves when you are going to be outside for a long time.
No sign of global warming here in Arkansas, and across the world we are having some record cold temperatures this winter. So this means that global warming is a myth, right?
Of course, to draw a conclusion from such limited data would be myopic at best, stupid at worst. In a way, those who believe "man-made" greenhouse gases are the cause of global warming are, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor, skating on almost equally thin ice.
Obviously, man-made global warming theories have been politicized, most prominently by the efforts of former Vice President Al Gore, a successful politician but nothing more than an amateur scientist at best. Has Gore published any peer-reviewed research he has supervised himself?
Also, another problem with analyzing global warming data is that a lot of people stand to gain a lot of wealth (and another group stands to lose a lot of wealth) should certain policies be put in place regulating the production of carbon. Because of the politicization of global warming science, many professional scientists themselves feel they must tow the "consensus" and succumb to groupthink lest they lose a grant, their jobs or even their reputation.
In order for our global society to determine the validity of man-made global warming theories, the Chicken Littles - global warming alarmists like Gore - need to relax. We've heard the warning bell. We know they think the sky is falling. Now, let us do the sort of theory testing the scientific method was made for. Don't worry. We'll keep an eye on the sky in the meantime.
People who have faith in man-made global warming need to stop with the "the debate is over" and those who disagree are the same as Holocaust deniers rhetoric. Open any high school history book, and you'll find plenty of examples through human history when the consensus of science turned out to be wrong.
Politicians who are concerned about global warming should have Congress create a special global warming research fund to be managed by six scientists: three who believe man-made global warming is likely happening and three who are skeptical of the validity of the prevailing theories. This would be different than Kyoto and other U.N.-commissioned gatherings of scientists where the meeting's position is pre-determined. Give the new fund five or 10 years to back research designed specifically to answer these critical questions about global warming and then report back to Congress.
1. Is global warming even happening? Some data suggest the Earth has been cooling over the last decade. Why?
2. If global warming is happening, how sure are we that greenhouse gases are the cause? Are there other natural cycles that could be involved? What about solar trends? It's not like the Earth hasn't gone through ice ages and hot cycles before.
3. If indeed greenhouse gasses are the cause, how sure are we that carbon dioxide, a gas that generally promotes the health of green plants, makes up a significant portion of the offending gases? "Man-made" and naturally occurring CO 2 constitute about 0.03 percent of the atmosphere. Why the focus on CO 2 ?
Writes blogger Jay Currie, "[The reason] I find the CO 2 argument hard to swallow is that only 0.03 percent of the atmosphere is composed of this gas ... manmade or otherwise. If man is responsible for 30 percent of that, then we are responsible for 0.01 percent, or 0.0001 of the total atmosphere. Which means that we are emitting the one ten thousandth of the atmosphere (which) is reflecting back the long wave radiation you are claiming is responsible for global warming. Those are busy little molecules."
4. Even if global warming is happening, man-caused or not, is this a bad thing? I've heard some interesting theories that by burning fossil fuels we are just releasing carbon back into the atmosphere that used to be there. Would the world be a better place if it were more tropical? Or are we sure the place would become a desert wasteland?
These questions need to be answered conclusively by scientists in a politics-free zone before we take drastic steps that will hurt our economy and have little-to-no effect on global warming.
We need to listen to the Chicken Littles and the deniers very carefully before making hasty decisions.
Policy needs to wait for the science.