Twenty-one Oregon teenagers have spent four years urging our federal government to take action on “climate change.” They found themselves back in court this past week, arguing their unprecedented lawsuit should move forward. To anyone who understands climate science, this lawsuit is nonsense.
“Climatology” is complicated. Almost all “climate scientists” are specialists in one area (physics, physical chemistry, mathematics, computer-modeling, geology, meteorology, oceanography). Like the “Seven Blind Men and the Elephant” parable — each focuses on one small part of the climate puzzle. The field of climatology is quite new; consequently, new discoveries continuously challenge prevailing wisdom.
Climate science is not being taught accurately in school. Teachers and parents should be instructing children as follows:
Ice-core data in Greenland and Antarctica over the past 800,000 years show that climate is cyclical; there are cycles within cycles. Earth undergoes “warming periods,” interspersed with “cooling periods.” The major Glacial-Interglacial Cycle — every ~110,000 years — reflects changes in Earth’s orbit around the Sun involving precession, axial tilt, and eccentricity.
Today we are in an Interglacial Cycle. The Last Glacial Period occurred from ~115,000 to ~12,000 years ago. From peak temperatures in the Holocene Warm Period ~6,000 years ago — ice-core data show a fairly steady temperature decline, punctuated with brief but notable warm periods, each lasting several centuries that go by names indicating the civilizations they supported: “Minoan/Greek,” “Roman,” “Medieval,” and “Modern” Warm Periods [see Figure]. During the Medieval Warm Period (~950 and 1250 A.D.), Vikings colonized southwestern Greenland; grape-growing and wine-making existed in England, and even in Stockholm.
Do we see any “pattern” here, children? This is called “climate change.” “Climate” is measured in centuries. “Weather changes” represent what is described in TV and newspapers in days-weeks-months-years.
What happens when ocean waters warm? That’s right! Carbon dioxide (CO2), sequestered/dissolved in cold liquid, dissipates into the gas phase (i.e. our atmosphere), which accounts, in part, for rising global atmospheric CO2 levels. All animals take in oxygen (O2) and give off CO2; all plants take up CO2 and excrete O2. This is Earth’s cycle that maintains life.
In 1850, global atmospheric CO2 levels were ~285 ppm; today they have reached ~412 ppm. This is good news to Earth’s cycle of life, children, because plants are substantially “starved” at CO2 levels of 150-200 ppm; optimal growth occurs above 2,000 ppm. In fact, since the beginning of weather satellites (1979), we see that Earth has become ~15% “greener” — i.e. green plants are replenishing desert regions that had been lacking vegetation. This leads to more arable land for growing crops to feed Earth’s expanding human population.
For unknown reasons, atmospheric CO2 levels were as high as ~4,000 ppm during the Cambrian Period (541-485 million years ago), when animal and plant life left an abundant fossil record for the first time; levels reached ~5,000 ppm around 215 million years ago. These CO2 levels were harmless to animals at those times. Inside nuclear-powered submarines, CO2 levels are not to exceed 5,000 ppm — with no harm to sailors.
Much of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels — from pre-industrial ~285 ppm to today’s ~412 ppm — is likely caused by burning of fossil fuels. CO2 is beneficial, not a “pollutant” as one might surmise from hysteria in the news media about the “evils” of CO2 and “carbon footprints.” Even more ridiculous is the fact that Oregon wishes to impose “carbon taxes” to “lower CO2 levels and save the planet.” Concerning that climate-change lawsuit — political indoctrination, and instilling false information and unnecessary fear in children, are serious forms of child abuse.
The Scientific Method involves generating a hypothesis and testing it against robust empirical data. The hypothesis of United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that “dangerous global warming results from human’s greenhouse gas emissions.” If changes in warming-cooling, CO2 levels, polar ice, sea levels, ocean acidity, and various weather indices all reflect natural variability over the last 12,000 years — then IPCC’s hypothesis is disproved by the facts detailed herein.
Daniel W Nebert is professor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Research Center. He is semi-retired and lives in Clackamas County with his wife — to be nearer to their children and grandchildren.