The 16 scientists who signed the Wall Street Journal editorial are a minority, but they're not outliers. They're not "flat earthers." They're not "scared of science." They are, quite simply, distinguished scientists with a dissenting opinion.
And their opinion deserves our respect.
Following are the scientists and engineers who signed the WSJ editorial.
Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris
J. Scott Armstrong, co-founder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting
Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University
Roger Cohen, fellow, American Physical Society
Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences
William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton University
Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge
William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meterology
Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT
James McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Tech University
Rodney Nichols, former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences
Burt Rutan, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne
Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former US Senator
Nir Shaviv, professor of astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service
Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva
Whether we cause it or not the climate will change. Will we cause the change to come sooner or later? Where is it written that Nature is going to treat us any better on its own than it will with our impact? Whether we cause change or not there is nothing that says what change we do cause is better or worse than what would be happening otherwise. We are a long way from understanding our environment well enough to say that we can change it. We are likely to find out a 100 years from now that everything we are doing to prevent global warming is doing more harm than good. We can pretty much depend on politicians to turn any threat of a disaster into a real one. Ethanol comes to mind. Climate change is not likely to over take the damage we do to each other any time soon.
Climate change seems to have few of the halmarks of science and many of the halmarks of a new religion.
Science has always been a matter of presenting an idea, presenting how one went about making their conclusions and exposing it to others to examine and experiment with to see if the hypothesis holds up under the scrutiny of others. The so-called scientists on the global warming side seem to have used the approach that their ideas are so in-controvertable that there should be no examining of their methods and formulas by others and that others who would dare question them are not true scientists. True science requires that the hypothesis and methods be questioned. True science requires that evidence that does not support your hypothesis be examined fully, not dismissed because it doesn't fit your orthodoxy.
The problem is that science has allowed itself to be perverted for the benefit of politics. Instead of being independant it has become so dependent on the political process that it no longer funtions as science, but as another propaganda tool to fit the local political winds.
Dear William. Yes, I know I just said that the slowly rising sea level may not be a world ending catastrophy. However, note that we will be forced to move hundreds of millions of people, some entire nations, to new areas, over times like a few decades. While this is not so bad a problem handled in small numbers over a long time, it does demand we plan how to handle it when the millions in Jakarta need our help with a 100 mile long sea wall, and when florida is hit by a shocking series of hurricanes in a short time.
I suspect though, that all the ocean level, even the storms by themselves, is just the spark at the edge. The real problem is an unpredictable weather pattern, and drying (especially followed by drenching rains) that make even irrigation a hard task. It comes down to food and water. A lot of this world depends rather directly on the water available, and the expected rains. Perhaps we should all put our investments into massive third world (and perhaps some first world as well) irrigation and storm water impoundment projects?
Hi. Just to clean up a few points. Except for our ancient ruins, our cities average less than 100 years. Mostly a lot less. Look at it as replacement time. Most or our buildings are used for around 50 years, then torn down and replaced with bigger and better. Ignoring all the many other variables, we could just raze and rebuild gradually as the sea rises. Some sites will be more exposed to wave and storm action and there will surely be important costs for that, but I would not want to oversell the size of the calamity. Most of us are not now living where we were born, so I think as long as the rate slow, the world as a whole would hardly notice. Not as important as war and famon.
Yes we are massivly dumping CO2 into the air. We are also making major changes to the distribution and temperature of surface fresh water, the range and distribution of plants and animals, and airborn aerosols (smokes and the like). Think of the world wide impact of warming the fresh water over large regions, replacing trees with grasses, and grazing grasses to bare soil, and nitroginating the oceans. The Algae bloom from the end of the mississippi by itself may seem ignorable, but add enough such stimulus from our many farms/yards in many rivers and streams, and we are contributing much more than just CO2. In fact some of these effects may be balancing the effects of the CO2. If that balance should run out of steam at the extreemum, we will get a period of much more rapid change. That scares me. I like to eat, and I do not want to have to pay $5 for an ear of scraggly corn.
On the good side of all this, we are wicked smart and can figure out how to survive and even live well under much more dificult conditions. Will we? That is a nasty hard question. I wish I was more confident in our good sense, but I do not see any good reason to take it for granted.
One more thing to consider is that this may be part of that wonderful process of evolution that so many people love and worship. If the ocean level rises a bit then folks will need to move inland a bit. And the good news is that the rise will not be that very fast so as to cause any loss of life, at least not among entities able to walk away from it. Trees and plants will surely suffer though. Consider the benefits of not having to deal with storm damage to those areas just barely out of the water. When they are under water it will no longer be a problem. Certainly things will be different, but will it be worse? or just different? What about all of those fools who are always telling us how good change is, never regarding that not all changes are an improvement. So possibly some will learn something.
POssibly at some level there will be more reflection of the sun's enegry, and things will cool off. That is another possibility.
How long ago was the presently exposed ice laid down ? Is that the case in the 3 major regions ?
Someone suggested that the ocean currents significantly push continents. I find this VERY hard to believe. The momentum and drag of the water is miniscule in comparison to the momentum and friction of the turbulent mantle
My problem with the "Global warming causes increased CO2" argument is that most people simply don't understand the scale of Anthropogenic carbon emissions as compared to "natural" ones. Or as Sarah Palin one famously tweeted, "How arrogant is man! Only G-d can change the climate". This sounds reasonable to some religious people. It is, also, completely wrong.
if you take the amount of fossil fuels burned since 1750 and determine the released carbon, which is a well understood number, and take out the amount of CO2 that was taken up by and caused short term acidification of the oceans (short term as in 100s to 1000s of years), you come pretty close to today's levels. So much for the "Warming causes CO2" argument.
William, you are absolutely right that much of the complexities of the climate is not well understood. We only became aware of greenhouse gases as a significant climate issue in the 1970s, in part because a Russian Venera probe found that Venus has a surface temperature of 900 degrees (F) when they were expecting more like 100F based on Venus' distance from the sun. So this whole science is very young.
While we may not understand the complexities, we do know - for sure - that we have doubled CO2 levels and that causes an added 4.7 watts/m2 of solar insolation. We also know that large scale, long term changes have already happened in the places most sensitive to climate - the glaciers near the poles, polar sea ice, and mountain tops like "Glacier National Park". And finally, we know that every year we add even more carbon to the atmosphere than the year before due to "economic growth" worldwide.
We also know that plants are budding earlier. Animals are changing their ranges. Some species are in trouble because the exquisitely orchestrated dance between plants germinating in spring and insects & birds bearing young to feed on those plants is now out of sync by as much as 2 weeks in some parts of North America. These are all well understood, well documented observations, published in peer reviewed journals like AAAS Science.
And it seems obvious that on a planet with 200 ft of sea level rise locked up in ice, and most coastal cities 30ft or less above sea level, that we ought to proceed with caution. It took hundreds, in some cases thousands, of years to build those cities. The notion that we can just pick NYC up and move to higher ground is the height of hubris. Yet they are already talking about building a sea wall across Hudson Bay. But how high?
So why don't we act? My opinion is that oil, gas, and coal interests have succeeded as the tobacco interests succeeded for a time 35 years ago, turning a scientific issue into a political one. In part that is because unlike past environmental warnings that were heeded (ozone hole, smog, water pollution, lead paint, you name it), this one is extremely difficult and expensive to correct. But just because we can't or won't do anything, that does not make the science wrong.
This is, as someone said, like not buying fire insurance because you never had a fire. Only this "fire" won't just burn down your house. It will burn down everybody's house. Even in an audience made up largely of college trained engineers, why do so few seem to understand the concept of risk and its mitigation??
The real problem does get mentioned occasionally, but seldom gets the attention that it should be given. That is, that the climate is a very complex system and not really understood adequately. Some facts appear to point in one direction, but then other information is found that invalidates the first conclusion. One real problem is the inability to tell the difference between cause and effect. Whatif we discover that global warming is the cause if increased carbon dioxide? Whgich would be very logical, by the way. It is a case of inadequate understanding driven by intense emotions, coupled with a long time opinion that "we are living too comfortably here in the USA". And I am certain that many of us have heard that assertion. So we should also consider the source.
I'd like to add one more thing. A friend, who is a global warming denier, stated that it is hubris for us to think that our activity could change the weather, that we are not that powerful. I think the "ozone hole" that could have grown to cover the Earth, it we had not acted in time, counters this point of view.
On the contrary, I think it is hubris to think that we can do anything and the Earth will take care of our mistakes.
Volkswagen AG is developing a lithium-air battery that could triple the range of its electric cars, but industry experts believe it could be a long time before that chemistry is ready for production vehicles.
Californiaís plan to mandate an electric vehicle market isnít the first such undertaking and certainly wonít be the last. But as the Golden State ratchets up for its next big step toward zero-emission vehicle status in 2018, it might be wise to consider a bit of history.
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