Climate Alarmism Needs a Reality Check

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Guest Opinion

By Paul deWitt of Redmond, Oregon

Recently, my wife and I traveled from our home in Central Oregon to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. While there we picked up a copy of The Coeur d’ Alene Press. I was surprised to find two climate alarmist articles in the same edition, both sourced from the Associated Press. One, written by Victoria Milko, described the drying up of the Aral Sea which she claimed is caused by climate change. In the other, Seth Borenstein asserted that climate change may cause the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), also known as the Gulf Stream, to collapse in decades, resulting in a catastrophic cooling in the northern latitudes. Neither of these writers is a scientist, and the Associated Press (AP) has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by climate groups to promote climate alarmism. Its stories are based on flawed climate models, and should be viewed with great skepticism. That The Coeur d’Alene Press uses AP as a news source for stories on the climate is misguided at best, misleading at worst.

Let’s get one thing straight: no one doubts climate change. However, some relevant facts about the climate need to be considered:

  • Humans emit about 10 GtC into the atmosphere each year as carbon dioxide. In contrast, Mother Nature contributes 200 GtC from her oceans and biosphere. That makes the human contribution of 5 percent hardly worth mentioning. One GtC is one billion metric tons of carbon.
  • CO2 is beneficial, not harmful. It is the “gas of life,” without which plants could not grow. We learned about photosynthesis and the carbon cycle in high school biology classes. Most of the greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor.
  • The current level of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 415 ppm. That is well below optimal for agriculture. Anything less cuts into food production. Greenhouses maintain 1200 ppm as optimal for growing such crops as tomatoes.
  • In the ice core temperature reconstructions from Greenland and Antarctica covering half a million years, Al Gore correctly shows a strong correlation between CO2 and temperature. But he fails to mention that temperature typically leads CO2 by centuries. That says that warmer temperatures cause more CO2, which is the opposite of what Gore wants people to believe.
  • Temperatures during previous warm periods, such as the Minoan, Roman, and Medieval, were higher than during the current warm period, because of an advancing Milankovitch (orbital) cycle that now has our closest approach to the Sun during the Northern Hemisphere winter. All of the warm periods during this Holocene Climate Optimum saw higher levels of human progress than the intervening cold periods.
  • Since the Super El Nino of 1998, there has been no net warming. In fact, some scientists suspect we may have topped out the Modern Warm Period and could be headed for another Maunder Minimum of sunspots that characterized the cold period during the 1600s.
  • Climate models that predict substantial global warming have abjectly failed to reproduce the behavior of our climate over the last two decades. Despite steadily rising atmospheric CO2, the global temperature measured by NASA satellites continues to show strong seasonal cycles and a strong response to sea surface temperatures, but little overall trend. That means that ocean cycles, not CO2, are driving the global temperature over decades, while solar and Milankovitch cycles take charge over much longer periods.

Is it important to practice energy conservation and to protect the environment? Of course! But we must be sensible about it. Human activity plays a minor role in climate change, and our attempts to manipulate CO2 and climate will waste valuable resources that could be better applied to dealing with actual problems, not those in the fevered imagination of the climate lobby.

Paul deWitt is a retired Navy captain with 24 years of service, including 15 years in intelligence. He has an MA in international relations from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. CAPT deWitt currently lives in Redmond, Oregon, with his wife Terri, where he has been active in Republican Party politics. He served as vice chair and chair of the Deschutes County Republican Party from 2016-2019.