Concerned Scientists Reply on Global Warming
The authors of the Jan. 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed, ‘No Need to Panic about Global Warming,’ respond to their critics.
I was sent a copy of the original letter, which allows me to reproduce it in entirety here.
The interest generated by our OpEd of January 27, “No Need to Panic about Global Warming,” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366.html is gratifying but so extensive that we will limit our response to the letter of February 1, 2012 by Kevin Trenberth and 37 other signatories, and to the letter by Robert Byer, President of the American Physical Society of February 6.
We agree with Trenberth et al. that expertise is important in medical care, as it is in any matter of importance to humans or our environment. Consider then that by eliminating fossil fuels, the recipient of medical care (all of us in the world) is being asked to submit to what amounts to an economic heart transplant. According to most patient bills of rights, the patient has a strong say in the treatment decision. Natural questions from the patient are whether a heart transplant is really needed, and how successful the diagnostic team has been in the past.
In this respect, an important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is “falsified” and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the
first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007. These projections were based on IPCC computer models of how increased atmospheric CO2 should warm the earth. Some of the models predict higher or lower rates of warming, but the projections shown in the graph and their extensions into the distant future are the basis of most studies of environmental effects and mitigation policy options. Year to year fluctuations and discrepancies are unimportant; longer term trends are significant.
From the graph it appears that the projections exaggerate, substantially, the response of the earth’s temperature to CO2 which increased by about 11% from 1989 through 2011. Furthermore, when one examines the historical temperature record throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, the data strongly suggest a much lower CO2 effect than almost all models calculate.