“Idiotic Environmental Predictions,” Oct. 14, contends that since overly ambitious historical forecasts have missed the mark relating to climate impacts, fighting global warming is a waste of time and money. Such illustrations of imperfect predictions are often used by skeptics to undermine abundant scientific evidence that our planet is at risk. In reality, this uncertainty is the actual biproduct of a climate that is rapidly changing. Not being able to predict the new weather normal is not a failure of climate science, it’s a warning about how dangerous climate disruption can be.

Carbon dioxide is the leading pollutant responsible for global warming. Since the natural world is essentially in balance with itself in terms of CO2 emissions and absorption, the world’s leading scientists have concluded humans are largely to blame for climate disruptions witnessed over the past 60 years.

Human activities such as burning fossil fuels, degrading soils through poor agricultural practices and cutting down forests increase CO2 in the atmosphere. Other greenhouse gasses (GHGs), including methane/natural gas (from mining, livestock), black carbon (diesel engines, wood for cooking), and halocarbons (refrigeration, A/C), contribute as well. GHGs cause the blanket of air surrounding the earth to retain more solar energy, heat up and become more energetic.

Emitting enough GHGs changes the atmosphere and weather patterns in a manner that is hard to accurately measure and predict. But science and daily experience are telling us that if we keep adding more GHG pollutants, we should expect more violent and extreme weather.

Climate is a linked system. For example, warmer air causes more water vapor to evaporate from the oceans which, in turn, can produce stronger hurricanes and massive rain downpours in a very short period of time. In September 2019, remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda dumped over 40 inches of rain in just three days in parts of southeastern Texas. Just two years before, Hurricane Hugo deluged the same Houston area with 2-feet of rain in the first 24 hours, ultimately flooding one-third of the city and causing $125 billion in damage.

The notion that we will be much poorer and less free if we try to address global warming is nonsensical. Every day the evening news reports on weather that is getting wilder, making living conditions less habitable and more expensive. Need actual proof? Just ask the communities who paid hundreds of billions to recover from super hurricanes like Sandy (2012) and Katrina (2005). Just ask the people living in “Dixie Alley” states like Alabama and Georgia who have experienced an increasing number of deadly tornadoes since 2000 (the March 2019 tornado had 170-mph winds and killed 23 people). Just ask those who have lost everything in California due to massive wildfires fueled by increasingly dry, windy conditions. Just ask the greater area residents of Phoenix, Ariz., where the 2018 summer average high temperature exceeded 105 degrees and led to 182 heat-related deaths.

Recent data from the U.S. EPA, NASA, NOAA, and others indicate: 1) The average number of high intensity storms has been increasing over the past two decades; 2) Oceans are storing more heat leading to stronger extreme weather events; 3) Sea levels are rising due to melting polar ice and glaciers. In Florida, the sea level has risen by as much as 8-inches since 1950, putting at least 120,000 properties at risk from frequent tidal flooding; 4) The United Nations reports climate change is among the leading causes of rising global hunger; 5) On Oct. 16, 2019, a powerful nor’easter hit the U.S. east coast with wind gusts up to 90 mph, bringing down trees and knocking out power to over 500,000. Record low pressures made this the strongest October storm ever in the Boston area.

Any suggestion that today’s Americans are more gullible than previous generations to believe in global warming is simply wrong. In truth, many Americans are confused about what to believe due to the overabundance of fake news that reigns unchecked on the internet, in social media and beyond. A primary reason for fighting global warming is not because of some predicted danger we face in the future, but the deadly reality of what we currently face. World Health Organization reports seven million people die prematurely annually from air pollution. Much is caused by the same fossil fuels (e.g., especially coal) that are warming the earth. Every step we can take to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy will save lives right now. Each day politicians and others spend distorting science to protect the interests of fossil fuel companies, people die.

No single solution will work to effectively combat climate change. Fortunately, there are many avenues to address it:

1) Carbon Neutral Communities: The United Nations Environment Programme reports there have been recent significant changes in the building, energy, agriculture, industry, transport, and forest sectors towards carbon neutrality (i.e., net zero emissions) and sustainability. For example, cities around the world (including Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., and other U.S. cities) have committed to a net zero carbon standard for all new buildings by 2030.

2) Carbon Offset Market Programs: U.S. programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and California cap-and-trade require polluters to purchase permits (allowances) and/or offsets (credits), the revenue from which is invested in GHG reduction.

3) Sea Level Rise Response: In Florida, over $4 billion in solutions are planned, including seawalls, sewage systems protection, raising roads, and stormwater improvements. Every $1 spent on disaster prevention saves $6 in disaster relief.

4) Individual Efforts: We all have a role to play in fighting climate change. Choose organic and local foods; Compost; Reduce consumption; Reuse products; Recycle; Use light emitting diodes bulbs; Switch lights off; Unplug electronic devices; Drive less; Avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration; Use cruise control; Stop clogging up the left lane; Let your local, state, and federal representatives know you want them to take action to phase out fossil fuels use and decarbonize the country ASAP. Vote!

Jonathan Kiser lives in Rockingham.

(30) comments

LVW

Years ago, Williams lost his way. He went from being an economist -- one who studies issues soberly and without biased passion -- to a partisan hack. Now, each of his columns follows the same pattern: pick a conservative stance and write a column whose content attempts to justify that conservative stance, even if doing so requires sloppy reasoning. It's sad to see. In this case, since the scientific theory of climate change has somehow become politicized, his goal was to discredit it. In doing so, he abandoned an economic principle: don't consider sunk costs when making a decision. Just like prior inaccurate economic predictions don't discredit all future economic predictions, prior inaccurate environmental predictions don't discredit all future environmental predictions. Williams knows this, but refuses to acknowledge it, since doing so would prevent him from writing his latest partisan hit job. Sad.

hbdansby

So well stated. You have wisdom and logic on your side, but the barbarians have the numbers on their side. Or should I say zombies.

newshound

That is the kind of cr@ppola statement that ticks me off and sound Hillary-ish. A big turn off. The climate obsessors DEMAND action and there is no workable, sensible, feasible solutions for their fears.

hbdansby

Newshound, it is not clear what you mean, but if you are asking if there are solutions for climate change, scientists and economists have been coming up with a variety of solutions for years. However, the longer we wait, the less effective any of those solutions are. One of the most effective, simple and easy to implement solutions is the so-called Carbon Fee and Dividend. A fee is added to the cost of coal, oil, and natural gas when it is produced or comes across the border. That increase the basic cost of carbon based fuels, making renewable energy and energy efficiency more attractive in the market. The fee collected is distributed back to households, such that no net money is taken out of the economy and the majority of consumers do not encounter higher costs of energy and other goods (the price of all goods are affected by energy prices). This is a simple, comprehensive solution that harnesses the power of the market. It relieves citizens of having to think about climate change, allowing them to consider only the price of things, not whether they have solar panels, electric vehicles, or whether to support or oppose a pipeline, etc.

Whalebroc

LV, you paint the failed thinking and bombastic doomsay predictioins made by the "scientific consensus" as comparable to assertions made by economists about subjects that man indeed has great influence upon. They have failed far worse than economists and have cost trillions of dollars thus far...with more trillions to blow down the black hole.

Williams, a logical realist of the country is not a conservative. He is a non partisan libertarian that pokes holes in mostly progressive liberal mumbo jumbo (redundant), using their own words and illogic against them. He also points out holes in "conservative" ideas as well, but you and others seem to forget those ideas.

As far as politicizing of the "global warming" , global cooling, rinse repeat cycle, check out the history of the debates and you will see that the one world order, UN people politicized it first and foremost. This has created the divide between the scientists ever since the "Contrails catastrophe", Russians controlling the weather, or the US trying to control the weather apocolypses that we somehow survived.

You're just upset because the Bills lost to the lowly Eagles.........You're young though, you'll get over it.

LVW

Whaler: I'll save time and just say I disagree. As for the Bills, they are regressing to their mean, which is probably around 0.650.

Donald

Mr. Kiser, I think your refutation of Mr. Williams’ article begins to fall apart with your first paragraph. The examples provided by Mr. Williams did not just “miss the mark” and were not simply “imperfect predictions”. Not only did they fail to occur they did not even give a real hint of becoming reality. It must also be noted that the predictions were also based on polar opposites – no pun intended – where it was first predicted that we would die in a frozen waste land brought about by “global cooling”, and when that did not pan out we were going to die in searing heat while treading water in an oceanic apocalypse. Now we are being told that it will be “climate change” that will bury us under massive snow falls while trying to grow crops in dried up dust fields while millionaires buy up ocean front property along the Alleghenies. Skepticism is warranted. What is not warranted is the current orchestrated attempt by some to terrorize children into thinking they will soon die (For clarity, I do not even remotely include you or others here in this attempt).

newshound

A lot to do based on theoretical predictions without any previous proven examples.

hbdansby

This is a well written article, but there a couple of statements I would seek to clarify. Kiser says, "the world’s leading scientists have concluded humans are largely to blame for climate disruptions witnessed over the past 60 years." I would take issue with the term "largely," since that might be taken to suggest there is some significant natural component to the climate change of the current era. There is no variation in the strength of the sun or earth orbit that we would cause a measurable effect over a period of decades or even hundreds of years.

Second, he says, "Every step we can take to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy will save lives right now." Even if carbon emissions went to zero instantly, global temperature and thus climate change would continue to worsen. We are talking about helping future generations, but in order to do that, we have to start now. The emergency is now, but the results will be in the future. However, we can get some quick benefits in air and water quality, as well as grid resiliency, better vehicles, and cheaper energy by converting to renewables and high efficiency.

Greg

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

mattnamyj

Using more words doesn't make it true. Still zero facts, still faked science, still trying to control our lives, still idiotic and wrong on every single prediction.

newshound

30 some years ago, several of my college professors emphasized "you will work in an inexact field of science (meteorology) and you need to accept that fact or you will be consumed." Humans can't control the ebbs and flow of climate but if it makes someone feel better, I guess they can give it a whirl. The atmosphere can be quite "explosive" in the upper troposphere.

hbdansby

Can man control the flow of the world’s largest rivers by building a dam? Can he light up the black of night with artificial light, indeed, the whole world at one time? Can he put up satellites that orbit and watch the earth? Can he send probes billions of miles into outer space that send back photos of distant planets and their moons? Can he calculate the age and origins of the universe, the age of the earth? Can he calculate and measure the fastest speed in the universe, the smallest particles, the hidden dark matter and energy? Can he measure gravity waves from the making of a black hole? Can he turn a third of the country into a dust bowl with his farming practices? Can he pollute all of the oceans of the planet? Can he create and produce plastics and chemicals the occupy the bodies of every living mammal on earth? Can he build bombs than can destroy all of life on earth? Can he destroy half the species of life on earth in just a few generations? Can he grow in population from 2.5 billion in 7.5 billion in the span of one lifetime. Can he build computers that can drive vehicles through the complexity of the highway system? Can he discern all of the elements that make up the entire universe, and which cosmic events produced which elements?

Programmer

Exactly right mattnamyj. I would add, no matter how many times they say it CO2 is not a pollutant.

LVW

Well, that depends on your definition of pollutant. Whether or not CO2 is a pollutant is irrelevant to this conversation; what is relevant is that it is a greenhouse gas, a concept you can't seem to grasp, based on your previous posts.

Programmer

Its relevant in that the author is writing a pack of lies, this but one. Never did hear from you exactly how much hotter CO2 makes the atmosphere or don't you have a formula for that?

Programmer

LVW, on another note. You are entitled to your own opinions and to your opinions of my opinions but you are not entitled to make a false statement about me. I'm referring to this statement by you "...is that it is a greenhouse gas, a concept you can't seem to grasp". The greenhouse gases are so because they are defined by definition, I've stated that before.

LVW

Programmer: You seem to think that if I don't have a formula for the effect of CO2 on the mean temperature of the planet that it follows that CO2 has no effect on the temperature. I based my comment on that. To see why that thinking of yours is flawed, here is a simple example: before we had the formula for Newton's Law of gravitation, we knew quite well the effect of gravity on massive objects. So not having a formula didn't imply the nonexistence of that force. In terms of how greenhouse gasses influence the temperature of a planetary body, simply look at Venus versus Mars.

hbdansby

Programmer, here is an apparent answer to your question about a formulation relating CO2 to temperature.

http://www.globalwarmingequation.info/calc%20temperature%20increase.pdf

As to CO2 being a pollutant, like LBW I don't understand your point. You need a definition. If we define pollutant as a substance that causes harm to the health of plants or animals, that is, that it is inherently toxic, CO2 would not be a pollutant. If CO2 has to fall under the definition of pollutant to be covered by the Clean Air Act, perhaps you could make an argument CO2 is not covered. It would depend on how broad that definition is. Otherwise, there is no reason that CO2 has to be a pollutant to be an environmental problem if it, as a greenhouse gas, causes climate change if concentration is too high in the atmosphere. What's your point? Oxygen is not ordinarily regarded as a pollutant, but too much in the atmosphere will destroy life.

Programmer

Right. You do know there are several theories as to why the Earth is 33K warmer than what black body radiation calculations say they should be and not all of them require laws of physics to be broken the way some greenhouse greenhouse gas theories do. I've asked before and of course you don't have to answer but which greenhouse gas theory are you putting forth here because there are several?

I maintain that there is an atmospheric thermal effect that takes place regardless of the composition of gasses which can be calculated for all planets in the solar system.

hbdansby

Programmer, under your theory of warming, what variables, if any, affect the amount of warming, besides strength of solar radiation? Does density of the atmosphere of the planet? Composition of the atmosphere?

hbdansby

Programmer, isn't the theory of greenhouse effect straightforward. Radiation comes in from the sun, hits the earth, which re-radiates it upward as infrared. CO2 scatters it, some of which hits the earth, raising the temperature more than if the CO2 were not there. The earth retains the heat and its attempt to cool (according to the second law of thermodynamics) is constantly thwarted by more infrared from the CO2 molecules.

Programmer

Mr. Dansby,

I read the paper at the link, that formula doesn't seem to accurately describe what is observed. The formula did say temperature would only raise 1.2C per doubling of CO2 but I didn't read closely enough to catch from what level (290ppm?) to what level (580ppm?) for the temperature change.

I've lost the link, but there was a formula that suggested a rather low maximum contribution CO2 can make regardless of concentration even if CO2 was 100%.

Programmer

Respectfully, definition wise you aren't going to win any supporters to your cause by saying they are exhaling a pollutant when they breathe.

Programmer

To calculate the thermal effect of an atmosphere the mass, gravity input energy, heat capacity, density would need to be known.

LVW

Programmer: The greenhouse effect does not violate the laws of physics; like I said, just look at Mars vs. Venus. The only explanation I have for your stance is that you must be getting your ideas from wacked-out fake sources like Principia Scientific. Good luck with that.

Programmer

LVW,

I don't understand your continuing to slay strawmen here on this topic. I'll concede that my explanations need some clarity. An atmosphere keeps a planet surface both warmer and cooler than without one, that's not in doubt here. Would you explain what mechanism your greenhouse operates under?

Programmer

Mr Dansy,

I agree with your description of the process of energy entering the earth system.

The surface (average 14C, max 70C, min -89C) heats the atmosphere but one issue is the re-radiation from CO2 at 15 microns is according to Planck (E=hv) and Wein (lambda max=b/T) equates to a temperature of -80C which isn't going to heat much of the surface. The process in analogous to heating your house with 300 watt heaters. You can have as many heaters as you want to emit as much heat as you desire but if the 300 watt heaters are blocks of ice your house won't warm up. A cooler layer of atmosphere won't heat a warmer surface.

hbdansby

Programmer, I don't have sufficient incentive to get into the physics that you cite concerning the energy from certain wavelengths of radiation, and that cold does not transfer energy to a warmer surface. However, it seems to me that radiative energy does not equate to temperature, and that regardless of the energy level, if the infrared re-radiated from CO2 has any energy at all and if it is absorbed by the surface, then the surface would warm up. Your second law of thermodynamics (hot to cold transfer) would apply to convection, not to radiation. I could be dead wrong, as I have not researched it at all.

R B Tate

And always use both sides of your sheet of toilet paper.

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