Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama ignores the facts about climate change

Obama Addresses Global Warming Summit

"'Few challenges facing America -- and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,' he says in the video. 'The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season. Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.'"

Sea levels (global mean, measured by satellite) rose 42mm in the 12 year period from 1994-2006. 42 mm. That's 1.7 inches. Are you frightened yet? I thought not. Also, notice on this graph that sea levels seem to have started a slight decline since 2006. This corresponds with falling global temperatures. (Sea levels are an expression mainly of volume, which expands or contracts with rising/falling temperature.) Generally speaking, sea levels have been rising for about 18,000 years, without any help from man. The general trend, has been up, and continued to be up in the 20th century.

"'[Leadership on climate change] will start with a federal cap and trade system,' he says. 'We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80 percent by 2050. Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it’s safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.'"

Solar and wind cannot economically compete with nuclear. I favor nuclear, but I question Obama's commitment to it, given his inconsistent statements. Clean coal? He cannot wave a magic wand and make it happen. Maybe it can be done, maybe it can't. If not, Obama wants to destroy the coal industry or at least raise prices on electricity (through this cap and trade system) for all of us depending on coal-generated electricity.

Obama: "This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced."

Increasing domestic energy supply is a worthwhile security goal. But Obama's statements about climate change are not correct. Earth's surface temperatures have been cooling since 1998. The atmosphere does not show the signature warming of the air approximately 10 miles up that should be evident if the warming we have seen (small as it has been in the past 100 years) were really due to greenhouse gases. Warming is seen mainly at the surface.

100 years from now, people will look back on this era and either laugh, or shake their heads in dismay, because we seemed unable to put real scientific data in perspective and exercise caution about making draconian changes in our economy on the basis of our primitive understanding of a very complex system -- global climate.

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