Are human influences an important contributor to warming

February 24, 2013 | By | Reply More

be no—if one accepts the evidence about the nonexistence of recent warming. Nevertheless,
it should be stated that since CO2 is a GH, and since most if not all of its increase is human-
caused, there must be some minor human contribution to climate change. The real scientific
puzzle, not mentioned by Nordhaus, is why the observed temperature trends are so much
smaller than what models calculate.

1. Is carbon dioxide a pollutant? Lawyers might say, Yes, this is what the Supreme Court ruled in
2007, but scientists are not so sure. A pollutant, by definition, must produce harmful effects.

CO2 is a natural constituent of the atmosphere, non-toxic, invisible, having no physiological
effects we know of—even at high concentrations. Its definition as a pollutant relies entirely
on its alleged causation of significant global warming and on the additional assumption that a
warmer climate is damaging.

2. (We should take note that CO2 is Nature’s plant fertilizer. The world’s important crop plants
developed when CO2 levels were much greater than today’s. Innumerable experiments have
demonstrated that higher CO2 concentrations are beneficial for plant growth and therefore
benefit global agriculture. Plants not only grow faster, but require less water. All of this is well-
known to agricultural experts and to the owners of commercial greenhouses, who often raise
CO2 levels artificially to increase productivity. Perhaps we should be grateful to China, the
world’s largest emitter of CO2.)

3.However, before considering CO2 as a “criteria pollutant” subject to regulation under the
Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court ruling requires the EPA to demonstrate by independent
research that higher levels of CO2 are damaging to “human health and welfare.” But the EPA’s
Endangerment Finding and supporting Technical Support Document (TSD) have been attacked
by a large number of plaintiffs. The case was lost before the Court of Appeals of the District of
Columbia; it is likely that it will return to the Supreme Court, which may get a chance to modify
its 2007 decision.

4. Are we seeing a regime of fear for skeptical climate scientists? Being fairly senior, I am
not much affected by the animosity towards skeptics, revealed by the leaked e-mails from
Climategate. However, I seem to have lost friends in the academic community and have had
considerable difficulty in getting technical papers published in journals whose editors have
openly expressed their bias. My real concern is for younger scientists who are just trying to
establish their professional careers.

5. Are the views of mainstream climate scientists driven primarily by the desire for financial
gain? This is a leading question; I would assume that scientific curiosity is the main driving
force. Financial gain may be only one of several additional factors, along with prestige and
academic advancement, invitations to important conferences, prizes, etc. However, I would
point to the large sums, about $20 billion during the past decade that the government has
spent on climate research, of which only a tiny fraction has gone to skeptics. I also note the
multi-million-dollar grants to “mainstream” climate scientists by private foundations, and even
by oil companies such as Exxon and BP. Not surprisingly, the number of scientific publications is
roughly proportional to this level of financial support.

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Category: Environment

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