Very interesting interview with John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at University of Alabama-Huntsville (I just copied most interesting parts – read the whole thing, it is worth it)
What if global-warming fears are overblown?
“Christy’s critics in the blogosphere assume his research is funded by the oil industry. But Christy has testified in federal court that his research is funded by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and that the only money he has ever received from corporate interests – $2,000 from the Competitive Enterprise Institute for penning a chapter of a global warming book in 2002 – he gave away to a charity, the Christian Women’s Job Corps.
His most controversial argument is that the surface temperature readings upon which global warming theory is built have been distorted by urbanization. Due to the solar heat captured by bricks and pavement and due to the changing wind patterns caused by large buildings, a weather station placed in a rural village in 1900 will inevitably show higher temperature readings if that village has, over time, been transformed into small city or a suburban shopping district, Christy says.
In laymen’s terms, what’s wrong with the surface temperature readings that are widely used to make the case for global warming?
First is the placement of the temperature stations. They’re placed in convenient locations that might be in a parking lot or near a house and thus get extra heating from these human structures. Over time, there’s been the development of areas into farms or buildings or parking lots. Also, a number of these weather stations have become electronic, and many of them were moved to a place where there is electricity, which is usually right outside a building. As a result, there’s a natural warming tendency, especially in the nighttime temperatures, that has been misinterpreted as greenhouse warming.
I know you think there’s been something of a hysteria in the media about melting glaciers. Could you explain?
Ice melts. Glaciers are always calving. This is what ice does. If ice did not melt, we’d have an ice-covered planet. The fact is that the ice cover is growing in the southern hemisphere even as the ice cover is more or less shrinking in the northern hemisphere. As you and I are talking today, global sea ice coverage is about 400,000 square kilometers above the long-term average – which means that the surplus in the Antarctic is greater than the deficit in the Arctic.
What about the better-safe-than-sorry argument? Even if there’s a chance Gore and Hansen are wrong, shouldn’t we still take action in order to protect ourselves from catastrophe, just in case they’re right?
The problem is that the solutions being offered don’t provide any detectable relief from this so-called catastrophe. Congress is now discussing an 80% reduction in U.S. greenhouse emissions by 2050. That’s basically the equivalent of building 1,000 new nuclear power plants all operating by 2020. Now I’m all in favor of nuclear energy, but that would affect the global temperature by only seven-hundredths of a degree by 2050 and fifteen hundredths by 2100. We wouldn’t even notice it. “