The gods of global warming

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

On American campuses, belief in global warming and man’s contribution to it approaches the theological. Actual meteorologists take a more nuanced approach.

“When it gets cold, they call it climate change,” meteorologist Joe Bastardi told Fox-TV’s Bill O’Reilly. “When it goes the other way, they call it global warming.”

That is exactly what Energy Action called it when the environmental group lined up 250 college campuses to participate in Energy Independence Day. But the college crusade that promises the most attention-getting way to combat the perceived cause of global warming might be Tufts University’s “Do It in The Dark!”

“This event, which happens each fall, pits residence halls against one another in an effort to see which halls can reduce their energy use the most and prizes are awarded to the top residence hall,” according to the Tufts Climate Initiative.

If that particular Tufts experiment borders on the whimsical, for its part, Penn State lays out a dead serious lecture program. Among the lectures on Penn State’s Eberly College of Science winter calender: “Will Global Warming Let Us Feed Ten Billion People without Trashing the Planet?” The speaker, William Easterling, is a professor of geography and director of the Environmental Consortium.

Interestingly, Easterling’s anonymous reviewers at split right down the middle on his pedagogy. “Interesting class with a very good professor,” ran the positive review. “Highly recommended.”

“He is insanely full of himself, and flies off to do various ‘big’ things like testifying on C-Span,” according to a reviewer who did not recommend Easterling, “but you will always have class.”

But if global warming is such a fait accompli, why has the scientific community not rubber-stamped it with a unanimous seal of approval, à la the theory of gravity? One of the leading naysayers on global warming is S. Fred Singer, head of the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

“Two research papers were published in Geophysical Research Letters (9 July 2004),” according to the Singer report. “We analyzed atmospheric temperature data (3 data sets) and concluded that they do not support the predictions of any of the leading climate models.”

“In particular, models predict increased warming trends in the troposphere while observations show the opposite.” Dr. Singer headed the National Weather Service in the 1970s. Under Dr. Singer’s watch, the service sent up the first weather satellite.

The models to which Dr. Singer refers are the computer program constructs the government bases its global warming predictions on. In years in which those models have made exact temperature predictions, the computers have never hit the jackpot.

“There are studies that show that the average error in modeling present precipitation is on the order of 100%, and the error in modeling present temperature is about the same size as the predicted change due to a doubling of carbon dioxide,” according to Dr. Reid Bryson. “For many areas the precipitation error is 300-400 percent.”

Dr. Bryson is an emeritus professor of meteorology, of geography, and of environmental studies. He was the founding director of the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.