My Position on Global Warming

I received an email from an engineer in Texas concerned about my position on global warming. I thought our readers might find my answer to be of interest:

"Thank you for reading my blog and for taking time to express your concerns. 

The primary focus of my career has been saving lives in extreme weather so those words of praise are especially appreciated. In addition to my degree in meteorology, I minored in engineering at OU and I believe that mindset has served me well through my career. 

You are the second person in the past few weeks to assume I watch Fox News. I can’t help but be amused by people who are politically liberal assuming that political conservatives watch Fox News. The last time I watched Fox News was election night 2022 and the time before that was election night 2020 and the time before that election night 2016. I receive almost zero news from television. My position on global warming comes from my scientific training and from scientific research. 

As to your comment:
The vast majority of actively publishing climate scientists – 97 percent – agree that humans are causing global warming and climate change.  (Source:  Do you really think you are right and 97% of the experts are wrong?  If so, think about what that says about your professional reputation, since you're involved with the same general area of study, the weather, and you're saying 97% of experts in a subset of that field are wrong.

Science has nothing to do with polling or opinion. It is about what can be proven through the scientific method and replication. I’m perfectly at ease with my approach to atmospheric science. 

The “97%” is based on a poll taken by an Australian researcher and the question wasn’t quite phrased the way you describe it above. The question was, “Do humans affect the climate?” Meteorologists have known since the METROMEX project, conducted by the U of Illinois in the early 1970’s, that humans do affect the climate. I would answer yes to the question and 100% of climate scientists should have answered yes. But, that is a long way from, “Is global warming an existential threat for which we should spend tens of trillions and reorder society?” To that, I would firmly answer, “no.” 

Climate change is far more complex than simply putting CO2 into the atmosphere. Land use affects climate. Particulates affect climate. And, there are the huge unknowns: do clouds have a net cooling or heat trapping effect? We don’t understand the role of methane (we thought we did, but we do not) and the same is largely true with water vapor. 

It is a fact that many of the studies pertaining to global warming would never pass muster in an engineering-type analysis. 

Given the above, it is entirely possible to do more much more harm than good with geoengineering and related schemes. We have already spent trillions of dollars on nonsense such as wind energy that do nothing but raise costs, make the grid unreliable, and have no measurable effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We don’t even know the goal! Climate scientists will not even attempt to guess the optimal temperature for humanity to flourish. 
What frustrates me is that the public and policymakers do not hear about the benefits of a warmer climate:
  • Cold is 7 times more deadly than heat. There are far fewer deaths due to exposure, worldwide.
  • Violent tornadoes are far less common.
  • Hurricanes have not intensified or become more common.
  • Because, worldwide, far more energy is used for heating than cooling, less net energy use.
  • Most importantly, the longer growing seasons with a warmer climate — combined with the “green revolution” allow far greater food production. Return earth’s temperature to 1980 and you will see mass starvation not seen in the history of the world! You mentioned NASA in your letter. See:  
Without full knowledge, policymakers cannot properly balance the pros and cons of various solutions. 

My position is that we should decarbonize energy production because we know how to create vast amounts of electricity safety via nuclear and that we should fund next-gen nuclear as quickly as possible. We should do that because:
  • I am concerned that if we continue adding CO2 (even though CO2’s effects) are logarithmic, things could get out of hand. We should have begun a nuclear program 20+ years ago.
  • We need to preserve the huge amounts of rare earth minerals used in wind and solar for future generations.
I wish you the very best and again thank you for making your concerns known. I hope this answers your questions and concerns." 

I'm always glad to answer letters from readers and I received a cordial response from this reader. 

Because of the importance of this topic, I'm leaving this post up all weekend. 


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