Tough To Be A Global Warming Skeptic

I have mentioned this before. I am skeptical of many of the worst gloom and doom projections of those banging the drum for global warming.

Though I haven’t seen his movie, I have seen Al Gore speak on global warming. It was at the White House and he was one of the best scientific speakers I’ve ever heard. I still wasn’t convinced.

This weekend I thought about this a little. Why am I fighting the tide? After all, like you I’ve read all the pronouncements that science has made up its collective mind. Done deal. Fait accompli.

And, from a political point of view, if you’re a global warming skeptic, aren’t you on the side of oil companies and belching smoke stacks? Isn’t it better to side with the Prius people?

Like I said, I pondered this weekend. Then, this morning, I saw a link to an article in the Denver Press.

From Dr. Bill Gray at Colorado State University:

“They’ve been brainwashing us for 20 years,” Gray says. “Starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15-20 years, we’ll look back and see what a hoax this was.”

Gray directs me to a 1975 Newsweek article that whipped up a different fear: a coming ice age.

“Climatologists,” reads the piece, “are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change. … The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”

the article continued with more quotes and another Colorado expert, but this was the part that struck me the hardest. Again, Dr. Gray:

“Plenty of young people tell me they don’t believe it,” he says. “But they won’t touch this at all. If they’re smart, they’ll say: ‘I’m going to let this run its course.’ It’s a sort of mild McCarthyism. I just believe in telling the truth the best I can. I was brought up that way.”

I understand exactly what he’s getting at. That’s why I was pondering my position this weekend. I was hearing the crowd instead seeing the science.

I know what I believe, but no one wants to be looked at with scorn.

4 thoughts on “Tough To Be A Global Warming Skeptic”

  1. I’m sorry, but it blows my mind that someone who works with the weather on a daily basis and is an otherwise intelligent person doesn’t believe that global warming is real, it’s happening, and it’s a problem that must be addressed.

    But that aside, what is wrong with fighting for global environmental improvement? OK, say that we’re wrong and you’re right — there really is no such thing as global warming. The cumulative benefits of reducing emissions for cleaner air and a better environment, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels in favor of alternative energies that don’t leave as much of an environmental footprint, stopping the destruction of the rain forest habitats etc. etc. ad nauseam all still lead to a better life for every species on the planet. If global warming is the excuse that finally makes all this happen, is that such a bad thing??

  2. I am all for a clean environment. I am not willing to open a bottomless account to pay for it, but I am willing to pay.

    Most people don’t realize the air we breath is significantly closer to clean than it was when I was growing up.

    Maybe I was overly strident in what I said. I do believe there are factors which will warm our environment. I just don’t believe the severity of the loudest pronouncements, And, I know there are many factors which aren’t taken into account in the models used to make the projections.

    Of course, I also use numeric weather prediction every day and am dubious of any long range forecast, because I’ve seen so few which were correct. And, again, many factors aren’t taken into account in these models.

    Meredith’s response is one of the reasons it’s tough for those who are skeptical to speak freely. Who wants someone to say, “it blows my mind that someone who works with the weather on a daily basis and is an otherwise intelligent person doesn’t believe that global warming is real,” about them!

    Meredith, who I don’t personally know, is a regular contributor to the blog. Her comments, including these, are always welcome.

  3. I appreciate that there’s a great many sceptics about global warming. But put it this way: is it warmer in a greenhouse than in the open air? You can prove in a lab that carbon dioxide and methane have a similar effect to glass, blocking the flow of heat. So ask yourself the question, if we double the amount of carbon dioxide between 1800 and 2100 by burning fossil fuels, will the world get a) colder, b) warmer c) stay the same? I wouldn’t bet on either a) or c).

    The only question is how much, and current predictions by many climate scientists suggest 3 celsius is the lowest likely number by 2100. This doesn’t sound very much compared to daily or annual changes, but to an ice cap near you it’s the difference between stability and melting. To a farmer it might be the difference between having pests wiped out by a cold winter, and having pests wipe out his profits. To a weather system, it’s the difference between not being warm enough to spawn hurricanes and being warm enough to have a good long hurricane season.

    However, (and I really don’t take any pleasure from this) there’s justice in this world of sorts. All those Florida voters who voted for Bush, the climate-sceptic-in-chief, and kept Gore out of the White House will find, by the end of the century, that a) half of Florida is underwater b) the rest of it has so many hurricanes it is uninhabitable. Not a nice thought….

  4. Andrew,

    Briefly – While it is true that CO2 and methane are greenhouse gases (no one disputes that), the atmosphere is very complex with lots of positive and negative feedback. It is possible… probable in my mind… that the Earth can absorb significant amounts of CO2 without a major impact. That’s because the Earth has an amazing ability to self regulate.

    Is the whole Global Warming ‘campaign’ political in nature? I suspect it mostly is – though most of the proponents are well meaning.

    Last year, as the Atlantic hurricane season took off, doomsayers were blaming it on Global Warming. At this time last year we had already seen five named storms, two tropical storms and three hurricanes. This year just one – and a wimp of a tropical storm at that.

    If this were a scientific and not political argument, those people would be explaining what had changed over the last 365 days, or why what they said last year is still valid. Instead, they are quiet.

    Andrew, I hope you believe I am a well meaning person. I like clean air – like it in the abstract without having to be scared foolishly.

    I assume from your address you are British. Your country has benefited greatly with much cleaner air. Those Sherlock Holmes era, deadly, ‘pea soup’ fogs, fed by dirty coal burning, are a thing of the past.

    All the best,

    Geoff Fox

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