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In an earlier Monitor, Chick Keller lamented that an awesome pushback had been mounted against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) triggered by the revelation that extensively manipulated datasets had compromised fundamental temperature inputs to the climate modeling supporting the man-caused global warming argument.
Most scientists agree that since 1850, the beginning of the IPCC temperature reconstructions and the end of the Little Ice Age, the Earth has been warming. The objective of an enormous literature is to establish how warm. What is far from clear is that any warming is man-made and that man’s activities can be modified in such a way that the trend could be reversed.
The critical missing element in the argument is the compelling evidence that fossil fuels are the culprits and that increasing atmospheric CO2 is the cause. Even the intended consequences of the proposed remedy are severe enough to insist on convincing evidence of AGW!
If the cause of moderate warming indeed turns out to be other natural influences, curtailing CO2 emissions is not likely to affect temperature and the economic and cultural upheaval required to reduce emissions will cause unnecessary hardship.
We submit that the problem is not modest warming, but rather the failure to recognize that cheap, abundant fossil energy eventually must be replaced by adequate, reliable alternative energy sources before fossil fuels are gone. Curtailing fossil fuel combustion reduces pollution but the issue is not pollution, it is squandering development time for other technology. The old notion that so long as fossil energy is cheap and plentiful we can kick the can down the road, must be replaced by the realization that the objective is really to develop energy sources now that can meet the future energy policy targets.
Do we conserve, limit population and constrict lifestyle and economy, or do we expand known technology to accommodate population growth and maintain lifestyle and economy? Since the early ’70s we have known that availability of oil was uncertain with inevitable depletion. Yet in the ensuring 40 years, no serious attempt has been made to change the energy generation profile except for increased use of natural gas.
Viewed from this perspective, AGW is irrelevant.
We lament that widespread and deeply ingrained but unsubstantiated belief that CO2 causes global warming was misdirected government policies and business decisions to the wrong issues. As we have written before, current policy fails to recognize that significant, remaining fossil resources should be used to support transition to new reliable sources of continuous energy generation. Also lamentable, vested financial and political interests persist in discussing carbon footprints and support AGW to preserve the carbon credit market.
Don Petersen and Bill Stratton are with the Los Alamos Education Group