Global Warming: Is It for Real?

A coalition of U.S. Catholic organizations recently urged the faithful to “pray, learn, assess, act and advocate” against climate change. But some Catholics, including Cardinal George Pell, disagree that climate change is caused by human activity.

WASHINGTON — Last spring, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued an alarming report.

“Global warming,” it said, “is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.”

On June 26, the U.S. House agreed, passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, a cap and trade system that would regulate everything from auto emissions to the insulation in new homes. The measure is expected to have an uphill battle in the Senate.

A coalition of U.S. Catholic organizations, including the U.S. bishops, also agreed, urging the faithful to “pray, learn, assess, act and advocate” against climate change. The coalition placed a large ad in The New York Times urging Catholics to “tread lightly and act boldly” to combat global warming.

So, should Catholics pressure politicians to take action before humans destroy the planet? Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, says, “Not so fast.”

“A considerable amount of scientific evidence has been produced to counter the still predominant view that human activity, especially through industry, has polluted the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which will produce disastrous climate changes, including a rise in temperature, a melting of the ice caps and rising sea levels,” Cardinal Pell wrote in a May 24 editorial. He urged people to ignore computer models that extrapolate with small samples of information that discard most weather history and reliable scientific data.

One American scientist, whose research appears in the White House report, concurs with Cardinal Pell. He told the Register the report distorts and misuses his research to create an appearance that global warming causes more frequent and more severe catastrophic weather events.

Robert Pielke Jr., a professor in the University of Colorado’s Environmental Studies Program and former director of the university’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, researches catastrophic weather events.

In dozens of studies, published in peer-reviewed science journals, Pielke has found that the costs of severe storms are escalating. He has disproved a link between those soaring costs and global warming.

“Climate varies and changes over time, and so do humans,” Pielke said. “We build more things. We put up more beach houses and beach condos.”

Catastrophic Weather

Hoping to prove global warming contributes to escalating costs of catastrophic storms, Pielke corrected for increasing populations and wealth in coastal regions and other areas most vulnerable to catastrophic weather.

“In dozens of studies, we have found that when we adjust for monetary inflation and greater populations and wealth, there is no upward change in the cost of catastrophic weather events,” Pielke said. “There is no room left for the effect of greenhouse gases and climate change.”

Pielke said the government report, however, used his findings to argue that global warming causes the upward trend.

“It cited my research to support statements that are completely opposite of what I have found. It’s deeply disturbing,” Pielke said.

Pielke said his complaints to the president’s Office of Science and Technology Policy have been ignored.

However, White House science adviser John Holdren, who released the report Pielke complains about, went on record refuting all global warming skeptics with an article for The Boston Globe in 2008.

Holdren, a former Harvard planetary sciences professor, wrote: “Members of the public who are tempted to be swayed by the denier fringe should ask themselves how it’s possible, if human-caused climate change is just a hoax, that the leadership of the national academies of sciences of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, China and India, among others, are on record saying that global climate change is real.”

Holdren added that Nobel Prize winners and most university science professors believe humans cause catastrophic “climate change” or “climate disruption.”

Lists of scientists who question human-caused global warming mostly contain the names of scientists who are “emeritus” or “retired,” Pielke said, because they’re less concerned about peer pressure than their younger colleagues.

“The minute you question any of the conventional wisdom, you get labeled a ‘denier.’ To speak out has a high overhead cost,” Pielke said.

Global warming promoters have asked University of Colorado officials to fire Pielke and to stop hosting his blog on its computers.

Say ‘Climate Change’

Pielke’s father, Robert Pielke Sr. — past president of the American Association of State Climatologists — was asked by the United Nations International Panel on Climate Control to review several chapters of its global warming reports in 1992 and 1995. He says his comments criticizing the report were ignored.

“Their conclusions were predetermined,” Pielke said. “They were only interested in confirmation.”

He initiated a study, published in June by the Heartland Institute, in which 860 of the 1,221 U.S. ground stations that monitor temperature were inspected. The stations provide data for the U.N. computer models Cardinal Pell urges people to ignore. The senior Pielke’s team found 89% of the stations “fail to meet the National Weather Service’s own siting requirements” that stations be at least 100 feet from artificial heat sources. Scientists found stations next to air-conditioning exhaust fans, too close to asphalt parking lots and runways, and even on hot black rooftops.

Just after the report was published, England’s Science & Public Policy Institute released its monthly CO2 report for May. The report compiles raw satellite and scientific data.

“Temperatures have now been declining quite rapidly for nearly eight years. And none of the U.N.’s models predicted that,” said Lord Christopher Monckton, a devout Catholic who edits the CO2 report.

Meanwhile, despite talk of global warming, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States found that snow cover in January was the most extensive ever recorded in Eurasia. NOAA also found that temperatures in the tropical troposphere dipped to their lowest levels in 30 years in March; the Bering Strait ice cover in March was higher than ever recorded, while Antarctic sea ice cover was 30% above normal.

Though the Environmental Protection Agency has never disclaimed the global warming theory, the agency’s website urges people to use the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming,” saying humans cause “other changes” besides warming.

On the same day the House passed its clean energy bill, the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute claimed the EPA suppressed an internal study critical of global warming. The report’s executive summary lists seven facts that cast doubt upon the government’s global warming theory and states: “Any one of these failings should be enough to invalidate the hypothesis; the breadth of these failings leaves no other possible conclusion based on current data.”

The EPA’s press secretary, Adora Andy, countered claims the author’s work was suppressed: “The claims that his opinions were not considered or studied are entirely false.”

Holdren wrote that “the extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable; it is dangerous.”

But Kiminori Itoh, an environmental physical chemist, joined 650 scientists in questioning the global warming theory in 2008. He was quoted in a U.S. Senate minority report. Itoh, who served in the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Control, which is the source for most congressional global warming concerns, said, “When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”

Wayne Laugesen writes

from Colorado.