Analyzing Global-warming Science
By William F. Jasper
Created 2008-02-18 06:00
Interview of Dr. Arthur Robinson by William F. Jasper
Dr. Arthur Robinson is a professor of chemistry and is cofounder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which was created in 1980 to conduct basic and applied research in subjects applicable to increasing the quality, quantity, and length of human life. As part of his work, he edits the newsletter Access to Energy.
Dr. Robinson, in collaboration with other scientists, was one of the early critics of doomsday global-warming theories. He has authored articles and created video presentations demonstrating that the hypothesis of human-caused global warming is wrong, showing that the hypothesis is not supported by the observable evidence. To come to this conclusion, Professor Robinson and his colleagues brought together the findings of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies about all aspects of the global-warming hypothesis.
THE NEW AMERICAN: Flip on any channel, open any newspaper or magazine, and it’s clear we are being bombarded with the message that the Earth is warming. Is there any merit to this claim?
Dr. Arthur Robinson: Yes, but the temperature is only going up 0.5° C per century. Moreover, this increase is not being caused by human activity.
TNA: Those who blame mankind for causing global warming would respond to that point by saying that the Earth is the warmest it’s been in 400 years, and that’s significant.
Dr. Robinson: They’re right, but they only show you the data from the last 400 years. If the data for a longer time interval is considered, temperatures today are seen to be not especially warm. The current temperature is about average for the past 3,000 years. It was much warmer during the Medieval Climate Optimum 1,000 years ago (see Figure 1). The climate, as we know from historical records, was just fine during that warm period. In fact, it was a little better. So, yes, it is the warmest in 400 years.
Moreover, the temperature, which is going up very slowly, is correlated with the sun’s activity, not hydrocarbon use (see Figure 3).
TNA: Those same people would say that science has spoken, that CO2 is the cause. What do you say?
Dr. Robinson: Gore, et al., tell us that CO2 is a pollutant, and that humans have caused this terrible problem. But actually the atmosphere contains lots of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide, water, and oxygen are required for life. Without these substances in the atmosphere, life would not be possible. All of the carbon in our bodies originates as atmospheric carbon dioxide. Plus, we’re only adding moderately and temporarily to CO2 levels. Carbon dioxide moves through the atmosphere on its way to the oceans and biosphere. Human use has caused a transient increase during the past century — from about 0.03 percent to 0.04 percent of atmospheric molecules. Man is producing about 8 gigatons per year, and yet there are 40,000 gigatons in the biosphere and oceans.
TNA: Which come from?
Dr. Robinson: Which are just there — created as part of nature. Between 1880 and 1890, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 295 ppm [parts per million]. For comparison, this office right now is rising toward 1,000 ppm because we’re all exhaling carbon dioxide.
The human-caused increase in the atmosphere is not permanent, but temporary. This increase is only being maintained by our production and, as soon as we stop producing at some later time when our technology advances, it will go back to its naturally controlled level.
When we use hydrocarbons, the resulting carbon dioxide goes through the atmosphere on its way to the oceans and biosphere, so there is a rise in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide has a very short half-time of about seven years in the atmosphere. However, while it is in higher concentration, it is wonderful for us because it makes our plants grow faster, which markedly increases the amounts and diversity of plant and animal life.
TNA: Al Gore also says that the UN’s IPCC has spoken, and the debate is over, because there is a consensus. What do you say to that?
Dr. Robinson: Right now the UN claims that they have about 2,500 people involved in this and about 600 scientists seriously involved. This is what Al Gore would point to today.
We have more than 22,000 scientist signers of our global-warming petition who’ve looked at the issue and concluded essentially the opposite of these United Nations people. This says nothing about the science. Science does not depend on polling. Just because we have 22,000, and the UN may have 600, does not matter. The only thing our petition demonstrates is that there is no consensus among scientists in support of the UN claims.
Scientific questions are never settled in this way. Science is about natural truth. The truth doesn’t require any advocate. It stands by itself.
In science, a scientist may discover the truth about something. Then he develops a hypothesis, and the hypothesis is tested by various means. So long as the hypothesis passes experimental tests, it becomes stronger and is further relied upon — unless it fails an experimental test. If it is a very fine hypothesis with wide utility, it may spread throughout the entire scientific community and become part of the basis of scientific knowledge. The process by which this is done is not what is important. The truth is important. Scientific truth is not determined by polling or by convening meetings.
TNA: But when looking at the pronouncements of the United Nations — IPCC and the media, the average viewer would be led to believe that they’ve figured global warming out.
Dr. Robinson: Climate science is a very primitive science. The atmosphere is a complicated system, somewhat similar to human biochemistry. We know some things, but we don’t know most of the needed facts. As you know, climatologists have trouble predicting the weather a week or two in advance. They surely cannot predict climate many years in the future.
There are some very fine scientists, like Richard Lindzen at MIT, who work on the details of climate theory and attempt to understand the atmosphere in detail. They are inching forward toward the eventual solution of this very complex system. Today, this system can only be evaluated empirically because it is not yet understood.
We can show that the hypothesis of human-caused global warming is false, however, because we have enough empirical data to falsify this hypothesis. Human-caused global warming is a hypothesis that has failed so many experimental tests that it is clearly without merit.
TNA: To the average person, those IPCC reports look very authoritative, very intimidating. It looks to us like a battle between two sides of experts. How do we know whom to believe?
Dr. Robinson: First, just because the UN has spent an enormous amount of money to convene meetings of 600 mostly self-interested people — many of whom are receiving research grants and other perks for participating — to try to determine something that isn’t knowable with current data and techniques, and produce a report, proves nothing.
Moreover, many of these 600 disagree with the conclusions that the UN-IPCC advertises. The scientists are never allowed to approve or disapprove the final report, and many of the comments that they submit for publication in the report are rejected by UN bureaucrats.
First, the report that is initially released to the public by the UN-IPCC is an executive summary put together by a handful of people including bureaucrats, politicians, UN operatives, and a few scientists. They issue a summary report with UN propaganda in it. They then go back to the reports of the 600 scientists and insert sentences into those reports so that they will conform to the summary.
At no time in this process do the 600 ever vote approval or disapproval of their own report or of the summary report. So this report is not even approved by the people who are claimed to have authored it. This is a fraudulent process.
TNA: Don’t they use the same set of data as you do?
Dr. Robinson: Yes, for the most part. Except that they often unethically omit that part of the data that does not agree with their hypothesis. They pick the parts of the data that favor their conclusion and discard the rest.
If you play with the data, you can falsify with it. So the UN is picking parts of the data. We are considering it all.
TNA: Scientists who are not intimidated to speak out about this are typically charged by the enviros as being paid by the oil companies.
Dr. Robinson: Well, we’ve never been fortunate enough to receive any money from them, and I mean in anyway, personally, professionally in our laboratory, or anything. We have never received a dime from anybody who has a specific economic interest in this issue. However, UN power to control and ration world energy — the real goal of their activities — would have a terrible, negative impact on the lives of all Americans. In that sense, all of our supporters have an economic interest.
TNA: Al Gore also makes a big deal about glacier recession.
Dr. Robinson: But he only shows the data for the limited time intervals that seem to support his claims. Here is the world glacier curve (see Figure 2) based on an average of all the world’s glaciers for which there are good records. Some glaciers are actually increasing, but on average the glaciers are decreasing — toward the more normal lengths that are typical of long-term average world temperatures. This curve is offset by 20 years because there is about a 20-year lag between the temperature increase and the shortening of the glaciers.
So the temperature increase reflected in the glacier lengths begins in about 1800. The glaciers have been shortening for 200 years. They started shortening a century before significant amounts of CO2 were produced by human activity. Notice also that the shortening is linear. Hydrocarbon use increased six-fold and the glacier melting rate did not change at all.
The glaciers started shortening long before we were using significant amounts of hydrocarbons, and, when we increased our use by six-fold, the shortening rate did not change. Therefore, human hydrocarbon use is evidently not the cause of glacier shortening or the mild natural temperature increase that is causing that shortening.
TNA: So what is causing the Earth to warm?
Dr. Robinson: A good clue is contained in data showing arctic air temperature vs. solar activity (see Figure 3). There is a good correlation. Surface temperature vs. solar activity data also correlates well (see Figure 4).
TNA: What about Gore’s demonstration in his movie, with those very large graphs, that CO2 tracks right along with temperature and is, therefore, the cause of that warming?
Dr. Robinson: In those curves, the temperature goes up before the CO2 and goes down before the CO2. The CO2 lags the temperature. And the reason it does is that the CO2 rise is caused by the temperature rise rather than vice versa. As temperatures rise, carbon dioxide is released from the oceans, just as the carbon dioxide is released from soft drinks when their temperature rises. Gore shows the curves with poor resolution, so that this cannot be seen by the viewer. His film is filled with dozens of other deliberate errors and misrepresentations.
My favorite is the part where Gore says that “the scientists who specialize in global warming have computer models that long ago predicted this range of temperature increase.” He then displays a graph of their alleged “predictions” and the claimed actual temperatures.
This graph is bogus in several ways, but the most striking is that the computer-predicted curve begins in 1938 — before either Al Gore or the computer had been invented. Unless Al Gore invented the computer before he was born, and didn’t show it to anybody but climate modelers until after WWII, this is impossible, because there were no computers in 1938!
TNA: Speaking of computers, allowing the UN to take over the world’s energy would have a big effect on our higher standard of living, would it not?
Dr. Robinson: An estimated nine percent of the energy of the United States is now used to power computers and the Internet. This technology cannot exist without energy. Automobiles require energy. You cannot warm your home without energy.
If the UN controls, rations, and taxes energy, they will have the power to determine whether you can run a wood stove, whether you can run an automobile, or can use any of the technology that makes our modern life possible.
When you say this to people, their eyes glaze over. They don’t believe it’s going to happen.
The power to tax and ration energy is the power to control the world — to have life and death control over every human being on the planet. No government should ever have this power. The United Nations-IPCC process is not about the climate or saving the environment. It is about power and money — lots of it.
Should Gore and the UN succeed, the effect will not only be diminished prosperity in the United States. In underdeveloped countries, billions of people are lifting themselves from poverty by means of hydrocarbon energy. If their energy supplies are rationed and taxed, they will slip backwards into poverty, misery, and death. This fits the population control agenda of the United Nations.
If the misuse and falsification of the scientific method that drives the human-caused global-warming mania succeeds, it will cause the greatest acts of human genocide the world has ever known. It must be stopped.