The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 11, 2009

Debate continues on Earth climate change and global warming

By Bridget Nash Staff Writer

Climate change.

Carbon footprint.

Go green.

These are a few phrases that recently have become part of our vernacular. We hear them every day. The president says them. School teachers use them. Tele-vision shows play them.

Each of these phrases has a connection to one problem many believe every person on the plant shares: Global warming.

However, there is a large community of scientists who do not agree with this theory on global warming. While everyone knows what global warming is, many do not know there is a rebuttal out there.

According to globalwarming.com, “The premise of global warming is that industrial growth coupled with non-structured methods we as humans use to sustain ourselves has created a situation where our planet is getting hotter by the minute. We have seemingly negatively affected our environment by a cycle of harmful processes that now seem to be feeding upon themselves to exponentially increase damage to our ecosystem.”

Edward F. Blick was once a professor at the University of Oklahoma in the School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the School of Meteorology, the College of Medicine and the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Blick holds an M.S. degree in aeronautical engineering and a Ph.D. in engineering science. He has served as an Air Force weatherman, has worked for Lockheed Missile and Space Co. and McDonnell Aircraft Corp., and has consulted for several corporations and government agencies such as NASA and the Air Force.

In a phone interview Blick explained global warming as follows:

“What they say is that as man has started using fossil fuels in the middle 1800s ... these fossil fuels have carbon in them. When the fuel is used up ... and comes out as exhaust, it comes out as H2O, which is water, and CO2, which is carbon dioxide.”

Global warming, also called anthropogenic global warming, which means global warming caused by man, is said to be a result of the exhaust made by the burning of fossil fuels.

“The thing is, the CO2 goes up into our atmosphere and increases the CO2, which is there naturally, producing the greenhouse effect,” said Blick.

Globalwarming.com describes the greenhouse effect as occurring when “solar radiation either bounces off of or is radiated forth from the Earth and instead of passing through our atmosphere and outward into space, is absorbed by all kinds of extra amounts and extraneous gases and particles ... from there the process repeats itself until we have a global version of a car with the windows rolled up parked in the noonday sun.”

On Feb. 25 William Happer, Cyrus Bogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University spoke before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“Without greenhouse warming, the Earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life,” said Happer. “However, at least 90 percent of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player.”

Happer went on to say there is little argument within the scientific community that “a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the Earth’s temperature — on the order of one degree.”

Scientists may agree twice the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would only raise the Earth’s temperature one degree, but what if man more than doubles the amount of CO2?

“Burning all our remaining fossil fuels cannot double the CO2, but only increase it by 20 percent,” said Blick.

“But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about?” said Happer. “In a word, they are wildly exaggerated.”

Even though the Earth’s temperature was rising slowly beginning about 200 years ago until recently, many experts say, “So what?”

“Climate is changing, always has and most likely always will until that thermonuclear engine in the sky, the sun, goes out,” said Gary England, chief meteorologist for KWTV news Channel 9. “That’s what climate does. It changes.”

Happer and Blick both said the recent warming period began around 1800.

“(It began) at the end of the little ice age, long before there was an appreciable increase of CO2,” said Happer. “There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels.”

Happer, Blick and England all said over the past 10 years there has been a consistent global cooling, not warming.

Blick said it is mostly politicians who are warning the world of impending global warming.

“How many scientists are involved? Probably very few,” said Blick.

Blick said several natural forces appear to be lining up to bring a period of very cold weather to the planet. One of those natural forces is sunspots.

“We’re in what is called sunspot cycle 23,” said Blick.

During a part of the sunspot cycle when there are few sunspots, the weather gets colder.

“The sun has had few sunspots the past year or so,” said England. “The sun is quiet. The last time this went on for years we ended up with the little ice age for many years.”

“The evidence is that right now, the sunspot measurements are so low, they haven’t been this low in about 100 years,” said Blick.

Blick said if a cold period is coming, people should be aware and preparing for it.

“Cold kills,” said Blick. “And yet our politicians are telling us it’s going to get hot. They’re preparing for the wrong battle.”

Even though these and other experts say it’s getting colder, people are still hearing the polar ice caps are melting.

“More recently ... people found a big problem with the data from a satellite that is used to estimate Arctic ice coverage,” said England. “It was a 500,000 square kilometer error ... in reality, we find now that ice coverage is not collapsing.”

England said the same researchers also discovered a large number of rural weather stations around the world were shut down. If only urban temperatures are reported, it might seem the average temperature went up even if it didn’t because urban areas always are warmer than rural areas.

These experts do not believe we currently are in a warming period, but they also do not believe that we can create enough CO2 to do any damage. In fact, they say an increase in CO2 could be a good thing.

“Increased CO2 actually increases crop production,” said England. “When CO2 drops to less than 150 (parts per million) plants will commence failing. If the plants die, then the livestock die and then guess who is next?”

“CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison,” said Happer. “Plants and our own primate ancestors evolved when the levels of atmospheric CO2 were about 1,000 ppm, a level that we will probably not reach by burning fossil fuels, and far above our current level of about 380 ppm.”

Happer said human exhaled breath contains a CO2 level of 40,000 ppm, a much higher level than is in the atmosphere.

Happer also said it has been said CO2 is a cause of increased heat.

“(Former Vice President) Al Gore likes to display graphs of temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past million years or so, showing that when CO2 rises, the temperature also rises,” said Happer. “If you look carefully at these records, you find that first the temperature goes up, and then the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere goes up. There is a delay between a temperature increase and a CO2 increase of about 800 years.”

An example of a rise in temperature causing a rise in CO2 is the ocean. When the temperature rises, more ocean water evaporates, causing more of the water vapor and, as Happer said, 90 percent of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds, not CO2.

Blick said Gore travels around giving presentations and has even written books about global warming, even though he has no academic training in science.

“Al Gore will not debate anybody. He says the debate is over,” said Blick. “I would love to debate Al Gore ... I’d be glad to go to court in defense of no global warming. I’d win easily.”

Most likely Blick won’t get his opportunity to debate Gore, or to go to court in opposition to anthropogenic global warming. The debate is likely to continue.

“With respect to the discussion on global warming, I say there are no simple answers to such an extremely complex issue,” said England. “No matter how many models they wave in the air and no matter how dire their predictions about our impending doom, they don’t know.”

Happer said there are more important things to focus on than a global crisis that may not even exist.

“I regret that the climate change issue has become confused with serious problems like secure energy supplies, protecting our environment and figuring out where future generations will get energy supplies after we have burned all the fossil fuel we can find,” said Happer. “We should not confuse these laudable goals with hysterics about carbon footprints.”

England said controlling climate is not something the human race can accomplish with ease.

“The following numbers are approximate,” said England. “The Earth spins at the equator at 1,038 mph; the Earth moves around the sun at 67,000 mph; our solar system travels around our galaxy at 558,000 mph and our galaxy is moving through the universe at 666,000 mph. So, right now you may be moving at 1,292,000 mph, and Washington, D.C., says they’re going to control our climate. I don’t think so.”