In the last couple of weeks I've had friends refer to two videos that contend global warming is a myth. Trying to be open minded about most things, I trotted over to the referenced sites. Of course, the first thing I noticed was the vitriol aimed at the original poster and then at all others whose ideas were contrary to the haters. Both sides are equally hateful and the whole debate is a disappointment because it's shadowed by hate. But, that's how we get shootings on baseball diamonds and rifles in pizzerias. Blind hate...no discussion...complete disregard for others' feelings...open, violent hatred about how someone else thinks. Sad.So who were these two "well regarded" scientists who debunk global warming? Well, first is Norwegian 1973 Nobel Prize winner (Physics) Ivar Giaever, and, second is John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel.I watched the video presentation made by Giaever not too many years ago which is still commonly referred to by many folks looking to debunk the impacts of humans on the environment. I’m sad to have a Norwegian saying the things he is saying. He does not have a great reputation. For years he’s been associated with and given support to Phillip Morris and the Tobacco industry. He thinks fat-shaming is humorous (in his video). He is doing the very thing in the video that he characterized as “pseudoscience” in the introduction to the video. Giaever won his Nobel prize in semiconductor science and only began his “career” in climate science with a half day or a day at the most (from his talk and papers) studying climatology on Google. He disparages Steven Chu who does research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, etc., and started the BioX project at Stanford which brings physical & biological science into the same space as medicine and engineering. I could infer that Giaever has been much more successful ($$ and notoriety) as a Nobel-holding climate change denier than he has as a semiconductor scientist. But, that might be conclusory and I just have the thought, not the conclusion.
As for the specifics of his speech, I would compare the content to an infomercial rather than a science-based analysis. He points to the change of .8 degrees as insignificant and compares it to a low grade fever (my words) and so we shouldn’t be worried about such a small thing. Admittedly, there must be some uncertainty in measuring temperatures from centuries ago and there is no “consensus” on the methodology but there is consensus on the findings. When looked at in the context of the total “system” of the earth, .8 degrees is VERY significant. But he moves on from there and implies that there is no relationship between CO2, pollution, and the environment. His methodology to reach that conclusion is not visible. I looked for some background and found this information on a NASA site and I think that the scientists of NASA have considerably more credibility than does Giaever with his day’s worth of google-based research on climate change. His brief discussion of solar, wind, and nuclear energy just has me shaking my head. One of the more significant issues facing the nuclear industry is...where to put the waste! Of course the standard answer is to put it in a desert in Nevada or the plains of South Dakota…no one lives there, why would that make a difference? I would not concede to his flippant analysis of the tsunami victims from weather vs radiation but that whole section of the talk completely ignored the radioactive waste issue. And I won’t even mention the dangers of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility…if terrorists haven’t thought about it already, it won’t take them long.
Giaever has become “famous.” But I posit he has only done so because he has a Nobel prize and he has denied the significance of climate change unlike almost all other scientists. And because that is so unusual, he now makes more money from being the poster child for deniers than he does for his work in the semiconductor field. His arguments are attractive to some because they are CONCLUSIONS without scientific basis, no consumer thought required, "just listen and feel good because that’s the way I feel and because he’s a Nobel Laureate I am vindicated." They are attractive to those who look only at the short term. There are many other Nobel scientists who have the opposite view…an overwhelming number. For instance: http://www.lindau-nobel.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Mainau-Declaration-2015-EN.pdf. The headline “Nobel Winning Scientist Debunks Global Warming,” whether true or not, feeds the addiction of internet trolls and folks who would rather rant than reason. All this from a day or less of internet research. Sigh.
In my opinion, and I will have to do research on this, money is behind the move to dismantle environmental protection. And that money is measured on quarterly earnings reports. Because of that, human generational impacts take a back seat. With dark money, church money, gerrymandering, and more, the political process has become a tool for industry. I’m probably not going to change that with my sadness. In fact, at some point industry will also pay attention because consumers are human. There are exceptions…tobacco, petroleum, asbestos…but they can become “also rans” much like horse and buggies and 1957 Chevies.
But what about the Weather Channel guy. I don't have much information on him. An entrepreneur. Rich. Asked to leave the station he started. Certified weatherman through correspondence course with Penn State. I'm not sure that qualifies him to call himself a scientist but...he must be a smart guy to go so far in the television industry. He abruptly walked away from his last job without any kind of farewell. Hmmm. So I listened to his rant and it was a rant at CNN. He claimed to be a scientist. He claims that he stands with tens of thousands of scientists who think global warming is a myth. He claims that the other 97% of scientists are being paid by the government to agree that there is global warming. Really? Three per cent of "scientists" are overwhelming correct about this issue and the overwhelming...almost 100%...of the remaining scientists are wrong. And this TV weatherman is right. And some of my friends are on that boat.
The truth is that I will not see the negative impacts of this administration's environmental folly. But for sure, my grandchildren (if I have any) will. SOME regulations that were implemented years ago in a frenzy of “environmental consciousness” are probably overdone, that is, restrictive in a bureaucratic, non-productive fashion. Some values are hard to measure though, for instance, under the current regulatory schema, the Chesapeake Bay has become a healthier, cleaner place. No more dumped sewage, chemicals, manure, etc. That progress will all be gone. Does that make the climate warmer? Probably. Don’t know for sure. The critical issues are becoming so overwhelming that my little brain box doesn’t have the capacity to take in all the data. With the analysis I have done however, I find the true evidence incontrovertible that there is a negative impact to our environment from the human presence. However, there is a baseline to that impact, some of it is just because we are here, the remainder is how we behave. Cars, cows, humans...
Speaking of boats...the shot below is of the Oyster Wars tugboat slowly losing its fight for posterity in the harbor in Baltimore. Not much left. Hurry if you want to see it.