Dr. Henry R. Savage: CO2 fixation
There has been a recent deluge of columns from The New York Times on climate change. I wonder if Congress is preparing to make a push for legislation.
Thomas Friedman, among others, seems to have fallen prey to the delusion that highly successful columnists can pontificate on any and all subjects. He has adopted the cause of climate change mitigation and no doubt his concerns are genuine. He also has adopted the conclusion that CO2 is the evil culprit in the climate change battle. I think he has been misled.
He cannot choose what to believe because he is not versed in the science. He only can choose who to believe, and the popular literature is devoid of the intellectual integrity that demands careful examination of all arguments and counter-arguments. The science literature is not all reliable, either, as we have seen. Peer review is not what it appears to be in all cases.
At one point in his latest column, he incredulously asks what scientists would want from a carefully constructed hoax on global warming? The answer is simple and painful for those of us in the science community. It is money. In the U.S., grant monies are about $5 billion per year, and much more is up for grabs worldwide. There also is the appeal of potential legacy, reputation and access to government. Most scientists are honest and rightly motivated, but some, aided by a complicit press, have participated in the intellectually corrupt, if not fraudulent, movement to alarm the public on climate change. For others in this camp is it just a case of group-think, I’m afraid.
It is becoming ever clearer that CO2 is not a significant problem. It probably is trivial in its effect even though it is a greenhouse gas. “Global circulation models” are required to make a case for CO2. The models preordain this effect by including powerful feedback loops that add large amounts of H2O to the atmosphere for small CO2 additions. The models are not validated in this regard — in fact, far from it. Water is the major greenhouse gas by a large margin. This is well understood.
We also know from the raw data that CO2 and global average temperature often go in opposite directions for many years at a time. Recent paleo-climate data from ice cores that resolve the timelines better show that CO2 increases in the atmosphere followed temperature increases rather than the reverse sequence. The delay in CO2 rise is about 800 years, probably because of release from the oceans, etc.
The best policy approach, in my view, is to study and respond to threats by taking nondraconian measures and simultaneously developing adaptation strategies.
At this point, I do not think we have any significant control of the climate. We know there potentially are major effects that are not yet well understood. Such things as the ocean circulations, solar radiation intensity and clouds are examples. Each of these appears to have the power to mask affects of CO2. CO2 reductions of the scale proposed will do major damage to the economy of the U.S. and put us at a great competitive disadvantage in the world.
China is a concern. Friedman mentions China in his column. I find it hard to believe China and India will not use their inexpensive, indigenous resources (coal) to advance in the world. China is doing just that with about three new coal power plants coming on stream every week.
We have all the energy we ever will need in the U.S. Most of the world’s hydrocarbons are in North America. They can be used with sound technologies to protect the environment. Wind, solar and nuclear also will help.
We need to get away from the fixation of CO2.
Dr. Henry R. Savage
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