The Global Warming Debate Continues

The news from various global warming and global warming politics conferences is as biased as ever. The disputes about global warming rage on. On one side, many policy-makers in the United States and abroad are aligned to promote global warming alarm, calling for strong actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Some of them are aiming for a socio-politico-economic response to global warming that can facilitate the rise of global government. On the other side, there are many vocal nay-sayers dsiputing global warming. They are concerned about the globalist agenda, and believe that many who support the globalist response put a spin on the scientific data concerning global temperature, claiming more than the data warrant.

One group strongly opposing the global warming agenda is the Heartland Institute in Chicago, which publishes Environment & Climate News.The Institute just concluded a conference in early March 2009 in New York where the speakers argued against claims of anthropogenic global warming and decried the suppression of contrary views.

While the anti-global warming groups criticize misuse of data, they put their own spin on the data to generate contrarian headlines. For an example, see the article "Global Cooling Continues" by Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor.

In this article, look carefully at the graph, showing temperatures in the lower atmosphere collected from satellites.

Taylor says there is a "decade-long trend of declining global temperatures." In numerous instances, Heartland’s advocates have claimed that global temperature has been declining from 2000. The graph refutes such claims. There is no declining trend. The temperature during 2002-2007 is flat, not declining.

Taylor pays attention to the spike downward in 2007-2008. But he conveniently ignores the bounce-back at the end of 2008. It is too soon to say what the level will do in the future. Furthermore, the downward spike is attributed by various sources, including John Christy, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), quoted in Taylor’s article, to a strong La Niña event in the eastern Pacific Ocean. El Niño and La Niña events in the eastern Pacific are well known and their short-term effects must be considered when looking at temporary fluctuations in the atmospheric temperature record. Taylor seems to have ignored the implication of his own quote of Christy.

Taylor goes on to say that "Data show 2008 ranked 14th coldest of the 30 years measured by NASA satellite instruments since they were first launched in 1979. It was the coldest year since 2000. (See accompanying figure.)" Taylor here spins the temporary feature of 2007-2008 into a statement implying that the globe is no warmer now than 30 years ago. The thrust of his statement is to suggest that a cooling trend is underway. The uncareful reader might miss the details and conclude that the planet is cooling. But the figure plainly shows that 2008 could be a temporary anomaly, instead of a trend, and more importantly that the general trend of temperature over the past 30 years (with long-term averaging to smooth out the noisy nature of the data) is upward.

A balanced view of the global temperature data show that the trend is still global warming, and that some of it is anthropogenic. Prudent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is wise while the science is further explored. However, it would not be wise at this juncture to enact a global carbon tax, nor a cap-and-trade policy, because of their potential economic consequences and the likelihood of unscrupulous manipulations by private and governmental parties. Nevertheless, on national security grounds, it is a good idea for the United States to reduce its consumption of imported fossil fuels.

John C. Munday Jr.
March, 2009