FLORIDA, December 14, 2012 — Climate change is one of the defining issues in twenty-first century American politics.
While a solid majority of researchers and scientists believe that global warming is a direct result of human action, there are dissenting voices. Steve Goreham is one. He has written two books on climate change. In both of these he seriously challenges popular perceptions. He also began a column here at TWT Communities not too long ago.
So, what does Goreham have to say about the modern environmentalist movement’s increasingly ideological nature? Why does he believe that human activity is not really the cause of climate change? In this first part of our discussion, he answers all of these questions and more.
Joseph F. Cotto: Climatism is not a concept with which most of us are familiar, yet tend to hear a great deal about. How would you define it?
Steve Goreham: Climatism is the belief that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. Climatism has become an ideology for global societal change, based on the misguided notion that man is the cause of global warming. Climate alarmists advocate a broad spectrum of remedies, such as electric cars, wind turbines, biofuels, restricting air travel, vegetarian diets, population control, green businesses, carbon taxes, and global government. It’s become an “ism” just like capitalism, socialism, and environmentalism.
Cotto: One of the gravest concerns cited with the modern environmentalist movement is its increasingly ideological nature. Some might say that this, in fact, is a positive development. What do you think?
Goreham: In my opinion, the environmental movement has become ideological because environmental alarm is effective for raising funds. An example is the World Wildlife Fund crusade on behalf of polar bears. The WWF raises millions of dollars every year, some of it in partnership with Coca-Cola, to “save” the bear.
But there is no evidence that polar bears are endangered. Bear populations have more than doubled since 1960 to about 23,000 globally. A detailed study published in 2007 by the US Geological Survey showed that bear populations on the north coast of Alaska increased by 30 percent from 1970 to 2000, even though arctic ice in the region decreased by 30 percent. Yet every school child is taught that polar bears are endangered. Children all over the world are breaking open their piggy banks to send money to the WWF.
Cotto: Why do you think that contemporary environmentalists have become more hardline in their opinions?
Goreham: I don’t know that environmentalists have become more hardline in their opinions. As a white water kayaker of more than 30 years, I consider myself to be an environmentalist. But it seems that hardline environmentalists have captured the news media and policy makers.
Cotto: Most scientists believe that human activity is the leading cause of climate change. Why do you disagree?
Goreham: If you look at both the science and the empirical evidence, the hypothesis of man-made climate change just doesn’t add up.
Regarding the science, theory of man-made climate change claims that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are boosting Earth’s greenhouse effect and causing dangerous global warming. But if you break down the greenhouse effect, man’s contribution is small. First, water vapor, not carbon dioxide, is Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas. Somewhere between 75 percent and 90 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds. Second, of the remaining part of the greenhouse effect that is caused by CO2 and methane, about 96 percent of this is caused by natural emissions from oceans, the biosphere, and volcanos. This means that man-made emissions are only causing about one percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect. Even if we could eliminate all industrial emissions, the change in global temperature would be too small to even detect.
Regarding the empirical evidence, all of the climate models predict a heating of the low atmosphere in Earth’s tropical regions. This atmospheric “hot spot” must be present if dangerous climate change were occurring. But thousands of temperature measurements over the last 25 years by satellites and weather balloons do not show this hot spot, powerful evidence that the climate models are wrong.
In addition, global temperatures have not increased for at least 10 years. In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted a global rise in temperatures of 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade. Twenty-two years later, global temperatures remain far below even the lowest IPCC estimate.
Cotto: What do you believe is the greatest contributing factor to climate change? Can it be controlled through human action?
Goreham: If we look back in history, we see Earth’s temperatures changing in long-term, medium-term, and short-term temperature cycles. The long-term cycles that operate over tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of years show Earth’s ice ages and interglacial periods, with temperature changes of 7 to 12 degrees Celsius. Most scientists believe that these long-term cycles are driven by gravitational forces of the sun, the planets, and possibly other impacts from the cosmos.
The medium-term cycles appear to be about 1500 years in length and are responsible for several moderate warming and cooling periods since the last ice age, including the Roman Warming, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and today’s Modern Warm Period. These periods have temperature changes of 2-3 degrees Celsius and are probably driven by the sun.
Finally we have short-term cycles such as El Nino, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. These cycles show small changes in temperature over a period of a few years to several decades. These short-term cycles are probably driven by Earth’s oceans. The small 0.7 degree increase in global temperatures since 1880 that everyone is so alarmed about is easily explained by a combination of medium-term and short-term natural cycles, without need for a contribution from man-made emissions.
The statement “climate change is real” is about as meaningful as “grass is green” or “water is wet.” Climate change is continuous. Humans can change climate on a local scale, but can do little to “control it” on a global scale.
Read more from Steve Goreham in the Communities at Climatism: A Mad, Mad, Mad World
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