Amongst the plethora of PhDs, hard data sets, hypotheses, and highly involved line graphs at the Heartland Institute’s 6th annual International Conference on Climate Change, a couple things can be simplified enough for the layperson to come away with and feel somewhat educated on the matter.
The two opposing sides are laid out thus: the first position, which is heralded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was argued at the conference by Dr. Scott Denning of Colorado State University. He said that the effect of humans in emitting greenhouse gases has contributed substantially to warming the earth. The second position, which is heralded by scientists such as Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama and Dr. Willie Soon of Harvard is that the human effects on climate are not substantial. They argue that such changes are due more to natural seasonal cycles of climate.
Dr. Denning, in his presentations, offered a colorful illustration of his main points which included his dancing impression of molecules. But the heart of his argument is that the CO2 that is released from humans is decidedly more than what is absorbed by the ocean and plant life and this residual CO2 will be in effect in the atmosphere for a very long time. He said that the greenhouse effect of CO2 produces heat, and doubling the CO2 in the air adds the equivalent of 4 watts of heat per square meter (which could happen well within this century), which is enough to heat the Earth at an undesirable rate. Dr. Denning goes on to say that in this century, if China and India continue to industrialize with the methods they are now using, that will increase the CO2 at an even greater rate and will be all for the worse.
On the other side, the argument is taken up by Dr. Roy Spencer who argues that “warmistst” believe in a sensitive climate system which is due to the carbon that humans are pumping into the air but he argues that the data collected and properly interpreted from NASA satellites suggest an insensitive climate system. Thus, he concludes, that carbon dioxide is not producing the warming that is noticeable and that a natural explanation must be in effect.
That natural explanation is taken up by Dr. Willie Soon who comically analogizes that the sun has a lot more to do with global warming than CO2 and that:
“There is no convincing evidence from each of the individual climate proxies to suggest that higher temperatures occurred in the 20th century than in the Medieval Warm Period. Nor is there any convincing evidence to suggest that either the rate of increase or the duration of warming during the 20th century were greater than in the Medieval Warm Period.”
That would put the greatest increase in temperatures before the industrial revolution, and would argue against mankind’s alleged contribution to global warming.
Val Jensen is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org