Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Tuesday, December 11, 2007
That is contrary to the views held by former Vice President Al Gore, who accepted the Nobel Prize on Monday along with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and who thinks that climate change is largely caused by human action.
Gore wants nations to tax carbon dioxide emissions and not build any new coal plants, among other steps. "It is time to make peace with the planet," Gore said in his Nobel speech, as reported by the Associated Press. "We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war."
The new report, which challenges the claims of Gore and the IPCC, was published in the December 2007 issue of the International Journal of Climatology of the Royal Meteorological Society.
The report was written by David Douglass at the University of Rochester, John Christy at the University of Alabama, and Benjamin Pearson and S. Fred Singer at the University of Virginia.
"Our findings basically are that fingerprints - that is to say the pattern of warming - that's predicted by greenhouse models does not match the fingerprints of observations, so there is a disconnect between greenhouse models and the actual reality of observations," Singer told Cybercast News Service.
"This means that the greenhouse effect - while real - is not very important in producing climate change," he said. "It's a lot smaller than what the models calculate."
Singer said the reason why the models "overestimate the effectiveness of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is that the models ignore what are called negative feedbacks which occur in the atmosphere, such as clouds, which reduce the effect of the greenhouse gases."
"Their models just don't consider them properly," he said.
But Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, told Cybercast News Service, that the study is "radically out of step with the complete scientific consensus."
"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is not just a report. It's not just a random gathering of scientists. It's the largest scientific body ever assembled," he said. "Their most recent assessment determined that there's 90 percent certainty that global climate change is happening and that it is caused by human beings."
But Singer said, "We have to remember that the climate has always been changing ever since we have records, and we have geologic records going back millions and millions of years. We know that there have been huge climate changes on the earth long before human beings actually came into existence.
"We are fairly sure that what's causing the warming are changes in the sun," he said. "These are very subtle changes that are very difficult to observe. The sun is really a quite variable star."
Hendricks, however, said because of the IPCC report, "the assertion that this is caused by increased solar activity or these sorts of things is out of step with the vast consensus."
"It's dangerous to get into a game of dueling science," he added. "We don't want to be gambling with the fate of the planet."
But Singer said because global warming is a natural event. "There is little point to try to control emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which means that all of this legislation and all of these efforts to find substitutes for fossil fuels are pointless, useless and very, very expensive," he said.
Hendricks countered, saying that alternative energy will be a multi-billion dollar industry and "an opportunity to revitalize our global competitiveness" through innovation and job creation.
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