Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Monday, March 26, 2007

Strange Science

I just attended another Rethinking Seminar sponsored by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. This evening Dr. Richard S. Lindzen gave an interesting lecture on global warning. His scientific credentials and qualifications are impeccable. He claims there is little evidence that the present warming trend (several tenths of a degree in the last 50 years) is caused by carbon dioxide or by human action.

There has been a large increase in carbon dioxide over the last 30 years. If the alarmists' models are correct, we should have seen a large increase (several degrees) in temperature, yet that has not been observed. Many of the models touted by the environmentalists exaggerate the sensitivity of temperature to CO2. Also, the relationship between warming and CO2 is not linear. Doubling the CO2 content does not double the change in temperature. The more CO2 added to the atmosphere, the less effect the added CO2 has on global warming. It is like painting a window. The first layer of paint may reduce transparency by 75%, but the second layer may only reduce it by 20% and so on.

Besides, CO2 is not the worst of the greenhouse gasses. Water vapor has a much larger greenhouse effect. I wonder what that means for hydrogen powered vehicles.

Efforts to reduce CO2 will have little effect global warming. Dr. Lidzen estimates that if the world had implemented the Kyoto protocol perfectly, then by 2100 we would have succeeded in delaying the warming trend by two full years. We could spend billions of dollars attempting to reduce carbon emissions, with little to no effect on the global climate. Those billions of dollars could be used to provide food and energy to poor people.

As Catholics, we certainly have an obligation to take care of creation, but we must do so wisely. Good stewardship means using our resources efficiently, not wastefully. There may be something to this strange science of global warming, but the world should look at the problem objectively and scientifically. Alarmist thinking and politics have no place in this debate.

Full disclosure: I stole this title of this post from a good article on the subject.

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