Thursday, June 5, 2014

Misguided Faith

Today's Wichita Eagle has a terribly unfortunate editorial letter from the Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, an advocacy group on the subject of global warming. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, the quality of the science in the letter is dreadful. So, let's compare the assertions to the science.

Carbon dioxide is a "dangerous pollutant."
Without carbon dioxide, all life on earth ceases. Period.

Superstorm Sandy with its estimated damage of $65 billion.
Sandy was not caused by carbon dioxide or global warming. We have always had hurricanes and always will. The graph below demonstrates there is no increase in hurricane number/intensity (the index factors in both). The reason Sandy seemed so unusual is because of the hurricane drought of the last few decades involving the Middle Atlantic and Northeast states.

Droughts and floods in Colorado.
Colorado gets a drought about every 20 years (see maps here). The worst flood in Colorado history occurred in 1976 (143 killed) with world temperatures cooler than today (see graph below).

Record summer melt of the Arctic Sea Ice.
The 'record' only goes back to 1979, when satellites could survey the area. There is anecdotal evidence the melts were worse in the '30's and '50's. Right now, world sea ice is above normal.

Drought in Kansas.
Like Colorado, Kansas has a drought about every 20 to 22-years. The graph below demonstrates that droughts (brown) are less frequent and rainfall more dependable (green) in spite of rising CO2 levels (blue).

Marked increase in the number of Kansans experiencing 100-degree temperatures for more than ten days a summer.
I have never seen that statistic so cannot directly comment. However, it seems to be a tortured way to trying to convince people that Kansas summers are hotter. Here is the number of 100° days at Wichita's National Weather Service office. In the era of "global warming" (defined by advocates as starting in the 1950's), there is no upward trend in 100° days in Wichita.

As faith leaders, we believe we have an obligation to protect future generations from climate change by reducing carbon pollution.
This is an interesting point. The climate, as measured by the same global index as the IPCC, is probably the most stable it has ever been. Temperatures have been flat since 1998.
Even the strongest advocate of the catastrophic global warming hypothesis (which has been disproven by the flat temperatures since 1998 in spite of rising CO2) has no idea what reducing the amount of CO2 would do to the climate. Why? Because climate is unbelievably complex and involves solar radiation, volcanic eruptions, land use, ocean currents, etc., etc., etc., that we have no way to forecast. It is just as likely it would get worse as it would get better. Right now, due to the warmer temperatures and CO2, major famines have disappeared.

As a person of faith, I would say to Kansas' faith leaders: What about the million people a year that die of malaria -- that could easily be prevented with 55¢/home of DDT? What about the third of the world's population that dies prematurely due to unclean water -- which can be easily and inexpensively purified with new technology? Why not concentrate your efforts on things that will do measurable good immediately for little cost? Why focus on a speculative problem over which mankind has little to no control?

While I assume the good faith of this religious group, why not focus their efforts on these more serious -- and much more solvable -- problems?


  1. ... What? Right off the bat, you position their letter in such a way that they're seeking to ban carbon dioxide and kill us all. They're not saying that at all. The letter repeatedly refers to carbon pollution limits, not elimination. Straw man much?

    John Tyndall proved carbon dioxide can trap heat in the atmosphere more than 150 years ago. Does that not count as a pollutant in your book?

    Don't claim someone else is writing dreadful things with no scientific basis when you're making yourself out to be the poster child in the first few sentences.

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  3. Try again: @Mike: Please read their column. The claim that carbon dioxide is a "dangerous pollutant" is theirs, not mine. Their words speak for themselves.