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June 18 2019


Global Warming


Leading politicians and media figures are insisting that Congress make
global warming a very high priority. Global warming is indeed real, and
human activity has been a contributor since 1975.
But global warming is also a very complicated and difficult issue that
can provoke very unwise policy in response to political pressure. In 2005,
for instance, Congress clearly made a very bad decision about climate
change when it mandated accelerated production of ethanol. Critics had
argued then that corn-based ethanol would actually result in increased
carbon dioxide emissions. An increasing body of science has since verified
this position. Further, corn-based ethanol is responsible in part for the
skyrocketing price of corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat since the mandates began.
Although there are many different legislative proposals for substantial
reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, there is no operational or tested
suite of technologies that can accomplish the goals of such legislation.
Fortunately, and contrary to much of the rhetoric surrounding climate
change, there is ample time to develop such technologies, which will
require substantial capital investment by individuals.

Earth’s Temperature History

Although there are several different records of planetary surface temperature, the one most cited is from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change.The IPCC history shows two distinct periods of warming:
one roughly from 1910 through 1945 and another that began rather abruptly
around 1975 and ended in 1998. The rates of warming of the two periods
are statistically indistinguishable. However, they likely resulted from two
very different causes. The early warming is more attributable to changes
in solar activity, whereas the latter warming has a clear ‘‘human’’ signature,
although other ‘‘natural’’ changes also contributed to a minority of that

Has Global Warming ‘‘Stopped’’?

While it is common knowledge in the climate science community, the
public is generally unaware that there has been no net change in the earth’s
average surface temperature in the last 11 years, as shown in the IPCC
history .
Because of a large El Nin˜o climate event, 1998 was an unusually hot
year—in fact, it remains the warmest year in IPCC’s entire temperature
history of almost 150 years. After a strong El Nin˜o warming, there is often
a cooling of the relative temperature, which occurred in 1999 and 2000
To begin a study of any trend at a high or a low point is highly dubious.
However, if one starts in 2001, after the compensatory cooling, there was
still no warming trend through 2007.
A close examination of observed temperatures since 1998 reveals that
a combination of tropical oceanic temperatures (as modulated upward and
downward by the presence of a warm or cold phase of El Nin˜o) and low
solar activity was responsible for the lack of warming, despite increasing
concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the main global-warming
gas. Clearly, these two factors could reverse their effects, which would
accelerate a warming trend.
However, current indications are that warming may not resume until
the middle of the next decade, as shown in a May 2008 article in Nature
by Noel Keenlyside. Keenlyside’s work is based on a projection of two
long-term temperature patterns, in the North Atlantic and the tropical
Pacific. These patterns will influence the global mean surface temperature—especially over North America and western Eurasia. Keenlyside’s
work, along with the lack of warming since 1998, has important policy

What Are the Policy Implications?

Scientists and policymakers really have only one set of tools at their
disposal for predicting climate change, namely, computer models of how increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide should affect earth’s temperature.
the United Nations’ IPCC. They are for IPCC’s ‘‘midrange’’ scenario for
emissions in this century.
Not one of these computer models for climate in the 21st century
contains a 20-year period with no warming. So given the lack of warming
since 1998, and projections for little or no warming until the middle of the
next decade, there is no scientifically credible model for future warming.
Further, what warming does occur will likely be lower than the average
indicated by all these models. That is because of the nature of carbon
dioxide–induced warming.
Carbon dioxide is a ‘‘greenhouse’’ gas, meaning that it absorbs energy
coming from the earth’s surface. When a molecule of carbon dioxide
releases that energy, it can either go out to space (where it would have
normally gone, absent carbon dioxide) or be re-radiated downward, which
will result in additional warming.

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