Climate predictions must be science-backed
BY GARY M. HOOVER
Thursday, May 19, 2011
5/19/11 at 2:41 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that carbon dioxide is an atmospheric pollutant causing catastrophic greenhouse warming of the planet. EPA restrictions based on carbon regulation are leading to more expensive, less effective and unreliable energy solutions.
I believe it is very important to understand what has led to this EPA ruling and why we must insist that better scientific understanding be brought to bear.
Climate change has been studied for many years. In 1920 Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovic published a book explaining how variations in energy due to changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun have led to the numerous ice ages on Earth over the past several million years - the most recent ending only 12,000 years ago.
Geophysicists also are learning that variations in nuclear radiation from the sun have significant influences on Earth's weather as sun storms (sunspots) and auroras correlate with temperature variations in many regions of the Earth.
Those using climate-change scare tactics to seek power and profit ignore the sun and other known natural (clouds) and man-made (aerosols) causes.
Instead, carbon dioxide, (of which a person breathes out more than 2 pounds per day and all humans generate more than 8 million tons per day), is proclaimed by the U.N. and the EPA to be a noxious gas and the sole cause of severe global warming. Few scientific observations - especially post-Climategate - support these proclamations.
How did we arrive at such a preposterous state of affairs? Scientific knowledge advances by three equally important processes: data observation (experiment), theory (physical mechanism) and prediction (modeling). These processes have clearly gotten out of balance in climate research.
With modern advancement in computer power, predictive modeling has outpaced both theory and observation. Predictions of extreme climate warming are coming from incomplete and inaccurate computer models based upon physical mechanisms that are not well-understood.
Small-model inaccuracies can produce big calculation errors in predicted Earth temperatures. These models are useful research tools but are not a scientific knowledge base for energy planning.
Recent satellite observations indicate that one very important modeling assumption could be wrong: that increasing carbon dioxide increases water vapor (water vapor being the predominant atmospheric greenhouse gas) leads to runaway warming. Continuing analyses of satellite data indicate that the carbon dioxide/water vapor feedback is probably not positive and might be negative, causing cooling.
A 2010 peer-reviewed paper using a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration database of weather balloon observations going back to 1948 shows that the measured transparency of the atmosphere in the infrared where carbon dioxide absorption has not changed in the last 61 years. If verified, this means that the net greenhouse effect due to increasing carbon dioxide is missing entirely.
I fear the government is putting economy and energy security at risk by relying on inaccurate climate forecasts that cannot be tested, are not backed by observation and use models based on incomplete theory. We might be unable to address our real environmental problems as money is wasted on futile programs with impossible goals and our economy is weakened.
We must insist that climate predictions, EPA restrictions and justifications for expenditures are backed by sound, peer-reviewed scientific knowledge before public and governmental support is given. It could be that our way of life hangs in the balance.
Gary M. Hoover, a geophysical consultant, has a doctorate in experimental physics.
Gary M. Hoover: Predictions of extreme climate warming are coming from incomplete and inaccurate computer models.