Scientists and climate change

Sept. 12, 2005
Congratulations to the Grays, both the geologist and the hurricane scientist, for speaking out on climate change.

Scientists and climate change

Congratulations to the Grays, both the geologist and the hurricane scientist, for speaking out on climate change (OGJ, Aug. 22, 2005, p. 12). Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University has been forecasting the annual level of hurricane activity for many years and has become the nation’s preeminent hurricane authority. Gray recently reinforced his views on climate change in the Discover article mentioned in the OGJ letter from geologist William Gray of Houston. In an interview, he said, “...and there has been warming since the middle ‘70s, especially in the last 10 years. But this is natural, due to ocean circulation change and other factors. It is not human induced...Nearly all my colleagues who have been around for 40 or 50 years are skeptical as hell about this whole global warming thing.”

Gray is one of many distinguished veterans in the climate change science fields. I am aware of about 25 to 30 such scientists. These are scientists with incredible credentials and accomplishments. Many of them are retired, some with the word “emeritus” in their title. These individuals do not have to play the game of chasing after grant money. These are scientists that do not have to curry favor with the department chairperson or other university brass. They are free to state their convictions, and they are all agreed that the big picture on global warming, as painted by the alarmists, is flawed.

One other veteran is Dr. Sylvan Wittwer, a retired professor of horticulture at Michigan State University and director emeritus of the Michigan State University Agricultural Experiment Station. He has served as a consultant for all international agricultural research centers, all US federal agencies relating to agriculture, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank. He is the author of over 750 papers and five books, including Feeding a Billion-Frontiers in Chinese Agriculture.

Wittwer is the pioneer who conducted the original studies on CO2 enhancement of the production of food crops, starting in 1964. He notes that “...the ‘greenhouse effect’ warming is nonexistent.” Further, “...the evidence is that the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are very favorable for the most essential of human activities-namely, the production of food.” He notes that the effects are positive as to the benefits for global food security. He writes that the rising level of atmospheric CO2 is a “universally free premium, gaining in magnitude with time.”

Finally, he has noted that the “benefits of carbon dioxide are not just limited to photosynthetic efficiency and water use efficiency. When plants are exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, every kind of stress is alleviated to some extent that we’ve been able to examine.” Water, temperature, air pollution, deficiency of nutrients, and even a deficiency of light stress are all alleviated to some extent.

The position of these veterans puts in question the claim that most scientists embrace the conventional wisdom on global warming. The key news about this issue is that a serious debate is still going on, and the skeptics may very well have the best of the arguments. One part of the proof that such a debate exists and that the skeptics may be winning is in the speeches, papers, and words of the distinguished veterans. To claim that these scientists don’t understand the sciences involved is silly. To argue that these veterans are being conned into their positions is spurious. And to accuse them of being puppets of the energy industry is specious at best.

Gerald T. Westbrook