By Will Happer and Rod Nichols
In his State of the Union Address, President Obama invited “anybody [who] wants to dispute the science around climate change . . . to have at it.”
The Supreme Court’s response? Thank you, Mr. President, for the offer. We will.
On Feb. 9, the court upheld a delay of Obama’s war on fossil fuels, which is supposed to “stop climate change,” in the form of new restrictions on factories’ greenhouse-gas emissions. Apparently a majority of the court is less confident of the “science around climate change” than Obama is.
As well they should be. Obama’s policies will have negligible effects on the climate and will be all pain with no gain.
Two critical points about “the science around climate change” stand out in a review recently completed by the CO2 Coalition, a new independent, nonpartisan scientific-educational group (CO2Coalition.org).
First, carbon dioxide, CO2, is emphatically NOT a “pollutant.” All living things are built of carbon that comes from CO2. An increase in essential CO2 in the atmosphere will be a huge benefit to plants and agriculture. Satellite measurements show that the increase of CO2 over the last few decades has already caused a pronounced greening of the planet — especially in arid regions.
For tens of millions of years, plants have been coping with a “CO2 famine.” Current CO2 concentrations of a few hundred parts per million (ppm) are close to starvation levels compared to the several thousand ppm that prevailed over most of history.
We support the cost-effective control of real pollutants associated with the use of fossil fuels — for example, fly ash, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur or smog-forming volatile hydrocarbons. But CO2 isn’t a pollutant, and there’s no reason to control it.
Second, the “warming” from CO2 — and yes, CO2 is a “greenhouse gas” — has been much less than predicted by the climate models Obama bases his policies on. For 20 years, the temperature has been virtually unchanged, in stark contrast to model predictions.
The war on fossil fuels isn’t based on science but on unreliable climate models. Rather than trying to correct the models, Team Obama is trying to “dispute the science” by trying to manufacture scary warming trends.
A recent letter to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology by more than 300 experts on data quality pointed out that the feds’ attempt to erase or ignore evidence of the recent lack of global warming arguably violated the Data Quality Act of 2001, which requires that “highly influential scientific assessments,” bearing the imprimatur of the federal government, be subject to rigorous external peer review.
It exposes the hollowness of the left’s claim that “97 percent of scientists” support Team Obama’s version of climate science.
Satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures are the genuine gold standard — and they show negligible warming for the past two decades. Since the Obama administration can’t read just satellite data (as they have tried to do with surface data), they have unleashed a campaign to discredit the satellite temperature record.
The observational record indicates that the temperature increase by the year 2100 will be less than 1 degree Celsius as a result of CO2 emissions. This small temperature increase, together with the robust benefits to plants and agriculture, will benefit the world.
How about other concerns? Some claim that more CO2 causes extreme weather, accelerating a rise in sea levels or other horrors. But extensive global measurements reveal no increase in extreme weather: The trends in tornadoes, droughts, floods and hurricanes are flat over the past generation. Sea levels are rising at about the same rate they did before the rising concentrations of CO2 during the past century.
Inexpensive, reliable energy from fossil fuels has raised living standards in the developed world to levels that only the wealthy could dream of a few centuries ago. Eliminating fossil fuels would do nothing to stop climate change, but it would keep much of the developing world in poverty.
Rising energy costs would hurt the less privileged populations of the developed world as well.
Bravo for the Supreme Court’s vote for solid science!
Will Happer, professor of physics, emeritus at Princeton University and Rod Nichols, former president of the New York Academy of Sciences, are members of the CO2 Coalition (CO2Coalition.org).
This article appeared on the New York Post website at http://nypost.com/2016/02/15/the-supreme-court-sided-with-science-against-obama/