This blog is intended as a counter-point to what you may have heard lately from politicians, news media, Hollywood actors, and other “experts” on climate. The opinion expressed here is mine (Dr. Tim Coleman), and does not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company, any other writer here, nor my employer.
1. Global warming
First of all, there is scientific merit for the idea of anthropogenic global warming. The increase in CO2 due to burning coal, oil, and natural gas does have a small warming effect. However, some actual “pollution”, like smoke and sulfur compounds, has a slight cooling effect. Natural effects like volcanoes and sunspots can have a large impact on our climate. For more on that, read my post called Global Warming – A Review from October 22, 2009. Dr. John Christy, Alabama’s State Climatologist, summarized the futility of our taking costly measures to try to prevent climate change in early November 2009. He pointed out that: 1) The data used to predict catastrophic warming is suspect; 2) The “remedies” are expensive and do little (e.g., We would have to replace 1,000 coal-fired power plants with nuclear ones to produce a 0.15 degree C change in global temperature). Read the full story here.
Then, the bombshell dropped in late November 2009. Emails were hacked from the CRU, a critical part of the IPCC and global warming alarmist machine, showing scientific dishonesty. Read James’ post here.
So, one could summarize the situation like this: 1) A group of scientists, dependent on grants (just like I am, but I study something undebatable, tornadoes), generates a large amount of “peer-reviewed” (accepted by 2-4 other scientists, often their colleagues) research indicating that rapid global warming will occur due to human activity. 2) Some of the scientists’ dishonesty has been brought into public view. 3) The past data has flaws. 4) Computer models that predict rapid global warming are being fed bad data, and can’t be trusted (their predictions for recent climate are already wrong). 5) Doing anything significant to cool the earth even 1 degree would cost massive amounts of money and jobs, and threaten our national security.
2. The approaching storm
First of all, as I have said before, I am strongly in favor of energy conservation (turn heat/air conditioning off while at work, use blinds to block the sun in summer but not in winter, drive fuel efficient vehicles, etc.) Read my energy-saving tips. It not only makes sense, but it saves money.
However, recently, polticians have sped up their agenda to reform energy use in the United States. The US House of Representatives passed a bill last year that would require drastic reductions in CO2, and place a hidden tax on energy, through “cap-and-trade”. It might be cleaner in some ways to replace coal-fired power plants with nuclear, but that would cost thousands of jobs in mining and transportation, and it would cost power companies billions of dollars. Solar and wind energy are very clean, but since the wind and sun are not enough in many areas, the electricity would have to be transmitted over long distances, reducing efficiency and costing billions more. Green energy like solar and wind power are much more expensive than coal, oil, and gas. Power companies are businesses. They provide a wonderful service, but they have to try to make a profit, or at least break even. Therefore these huge costs would be passed on to the customers.
Spain has been mentioned as an example for the United States to follow in its solar energy program. Where is Spain today? On the brink of becoming the next Greece.
It bothers me that politicians are trying to use the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to make their “green energy” ideas look more appealing.
The Gulf oil spill has lead to a moratorium on offshore drilling. 10% of the oil we use every day in the US comes from offshore drilling. Stopping that would raise gas prices and decrease our national security by making us more dependent on foreign oil.
I have heard the tragic Gulf oil spill compared to the September 11 terrorist attacks by the President. That is not appropriate. On 9/11, 3,000 Americans died and tens of thousands were left without family members, all at the hands of terrorists. This is a large-scale, catostrophic accident, nothing like 9/11.
Then, Sen. Barbara Boxer said that global climate change would be the leading cause of conflict in the world in the next 20 years, more than terrorism or nuclear weapons. Are you kidding? Finally, in a speech to the nation tonight, the President promised millions of green jobs, if we can only move more quickly to pass energy reform and make electricity and gasoline much more expensive. I don’t know what the jobs will be (a few people will make wind turbines and solar panels, etc.), but what about the 717,000 people who work in mining and transportation of coal, oil, and gas? He then compared the move to green energy to the industrial transformation of World War II. Does a 0.1 degree temperature rise scare you as much as the Axis in the 1930’s taking over much of Europe and threatening the entire world? Not me.
4. The emergency
The Gulf oil spill breaks my heart, just like it does everyone’s who has grown up going to the beaches, eating seafood, etc. I can’t imagine what it is like for the people losing their jobs, businesses, and homes due to the loss of fishing and tourism. But, we must not allow emotion to guide our choices that will have enormous consequences in coming decades. We need offshore oil to keep gas prices reasonable. We need coal-fired power plants to keep electricity affordable. We should press forward with research on clean energy and cheaper ways to produce and distribute it. However, we must not force this issue by imposing taxes on a fragile economy.
The real emergency would be if the politicians get their way. 700,000 lost jobs in coal, oil, and gas. $5.00 per gallon for gas. $400 per month power bills. Even the IPCC states that climate mitigation would cost 1.7% of world GDP. Even if you assume it would be spread evenly (the rapid building of power plants in the far East does not indicate that), that would mean $250 per month for a family of four in the United States. Can we afford that?
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