During the cold snap earlier this week I heard a lot of talk about – mostly belittling – global warming.
“Must be that global warming, ha, ha, ha.”
I can see why people would say that, but that’s really not the way it works. While it was cold in North America, it was crazy hot in Australia.
Global warming has to do with the mean temperature of the earth rising over a long period of time. It’s not about this or that particular weather event.
Now, I am not a global warming denier. I don’t dispute the basic principle behind what has become known as the “greenhouse effect.” That is, the burning of oil, gas, wood and – especially – coal, puts carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere.
These gases diminish the ozone layer’s ability to shield us from the sun.
This means more of the sun’s heat penetrates the earth’s surface and less of it escapes. This causes the lower atmosphere and the earth’s surface to warm.
I believe that’s happening. Frankly, there are very few scientists who don’t agree that’s happening. It’s pretty simple science. To deny that it’s happening is really kind of silly.
The big, raging “global warming” debate among scientists isn’t over whether it’s happening. The question is: How rapidly and seriously is global warming affecting the planet?
On the one hand, you have some who say that the polar ice caps are melting, the seas are rising, and by 2100 Florida will likely be under water.
Some scientists say the  effects of global warming are vastly overstated.
One of the latter is leading climate skeptic Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology at MIT and senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He was a pioneering climate scientist with decades at Harvard and MIT.
Lindzen was featured a week ago in an in-depth article at weeklystandard.com
(Google – “what catastrophe lindzen”)
In it, he tells writer  Ethan Epstein, “We all agree that temperature has increased since 1800.” But, it’s increased by “a very small amount. We’re talking about tenths of a degree [Celsius].”
Lindzen sees climate research as being deeply compromised by political pressure, data fudging, out-and-out guesswork and unwarranted alarmism.
Judging by where we are now, he (Lindzen) appears to have a point; so far, 150 years of burning fossil fuels in large quantities has had a relatively minimal effect on the climate. By some measurements, there is now more CO2 in the atmosphere than there has been at any time in the past 15 million years. Yet since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the average global temperature has risen by, at most, 1 degree Celsius, or 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. And while it’s true that sea levels have risen over the same period, it’s believed they’ve been doing so for roughly 20,000 years. What’s more, despite common misconceptions stoked by the media in the wake of Katrina, Sandy, and the recent typhoon in the Philippines, even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concedes that it has “low confidence” that there has been any measurable uptick in storm intensity thanks to human activity. Moreover, over the past 15 years, as man has emitted record levels of carbon dioxide year after year, the warming trend of previous decades has stopped.
That IPCC outfit is the same group that, in its  “Summary for Policymakers“ last fall, opined that if emissions continue to rise, by the year 2100, global temperatures could increase as much as 5.5 degrees celsius (9.9 degrees fahrenheit.) It also says sea levels could rise as much as a meter (39.37 inches.)
If that’s the case, we would suffer extreme weather, droughts, crop failures and record flooding. Basically, more than half of Florida would be under water.
But Lindzen rejects this. He says the IPCC Summary for Policymakers is itself problematic.
He claims the full IPPC report – which is thousands of pages – demonstrates a significant amount of doubt among scientists.
But the summary – the only thing the media or the politicians look at – filters out all the doubt.
Lindzen’s also says that for governments to throw a lot of money at science, government policymakers – and the public – have to be a little scared or worried. The more dire the predictions regarding global warming, the more money governments are willing to throw at research and solutions.
Of course, the scientists who favor the doomsday stuff think Lindzen is dead wrong.
They call him a liar, a lunatic or worse.
So who do you believe?
Well, frankly, I don’t know.
But after reading the weeklystandard.com article, I was surfing around to look at different viewpoints on global warming when I stumbled across an article under the following headline:
Antarctic ice shelf melt ‘lowest EVER recorded, global warming is NOT eroding it'
The article, by Lewis Pate writing for theregister.co.uk was fascinating.
(Google – antarctic ice shelf melt)
It seems scientists at the British Antarctic Survey say that the melting of the Pine Island Glacier ice shelf has suddenly slowed in the last several years.
This, apparently, confirms earlier research which suggested that the shelf’s melt does not result from human global warming.
The article says Pine Island Glacier and its sea ice shelf are closely watched because its melt rate seemed to accelerate quickly after scientists first began studying it in the 1990s.
But  observations made in January 2012 were reported recently in Science magazine, the article notes. Those observations show that melting of the glacier was the lowest ever recorded.
Dr. Pierre Dutrieux of the British Antarctic Survey is quoted in the article: "We found ocean melting of the glacier was the lowest ever recorded, and less than half of that observed in 2010. This enormous, and unexpected, variability contradicts the widespread view that a simple and steady ocean warming in the region is eroding the West Antarctic Ice Sheet."
I am not pretending to be a scientist here.
I am just a guy with an Internet connection and a desire to read stuff. I would urge anyone even remotely interested in this to read the two articles I quote in this column.
It seems to me that there is a good bit of doubt with regard to the long-term effects global warming.
I think policymakers should consider this before they spend trillions of dollars and drive the cost of energy through the roof trying to fix things.