Comprised largely of ex-NASA engineers and scientists, the team acknowledges in their report that "climate science is not one of our data technical specialties," but that, nonetheless, given their experience in their separate fields of physics, chemistry, geology, meteorology and others, they felt the need to speak out.
Specifically, the report responds to what the group feels is unfounded pulpit pounding by certain NASA bureaus regarding a false damnation of global warming that is seen strictly the result of human sin in the form of carbon dioxide emissions.
"Many of us felt these alarming and premature predictions of a climate disaster with so little empirical data to support these claims, would eventually damage NASA's reputation for excellent and objective science and engineering achievement," the report states.
First of all, the group states, the argument over whether or not human-induced carbons are at fault for the rise the global rise in temperatures is not "settled," despite what James Hansen or others of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies may say. To support this statement, the report cited several groups all with varying opinions on the subject, including the Department of Atmospheric Sciences of Texas A&M, Hansen himself, Richard Alley of Penn State, Rchard Lindzen of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Roger A. Pielke Sr. of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.
Second, the report argues that natural processes dominate climate change, though many are poorly understood. This includes ice age cycles natural to the world's climate fluctuations, which scientists, including the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have shown affect the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Specifically, the IPCC's 4th assesment report states that the lag in carbon dioxide increases following temperature increases is roughly 800 years.
"Ergo, CO2 does not appear to be the throttle that controlled the temperature cycles of the last 700,000 years." Though, they argue, the temperature appears to affect the levels of CO2 - a concept that for many may feel like standing on one's head.
Other cycles include the El Nino Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation.
Of them, the report states, "Little is known about the cause of these cycles, but it is apparent that when their warm phases coincide, extra warmth is added to the atmosphere. Indeed this was the case in the latter part of the last century."
The third main point the report makes is the importance of the influence of humankind on the environment in ways besides carbon dioxide emissions. This includes aerosols as well as changing biomass, which, Pielke Sr., argues, creates islands of urban heat that can affect not only climate, but the measurement of climate change.
Fourth, the report argues that carbon-based AGW impact appears to be "muted."
The physics of warming by atmospheric carbon dioxide is firmly established, the report states, as most agree that each time it doubles from pre-industrial levels, the planet gets 1 degree Celsius warmer.
"The issue in dispute is the amount of amplification that would come from humidification of a warmer mid-to-upper troposphere," the report explains. And here, once again, they argue that, based on several studies the answer at present "is far from clear."
Next, the group states that the empirical evidence for carbon-based AGW "does not support a catastrophe."
Given the amount the word is bandied about, the group says, "somewhere there must be a direct connection of 2 - 4.5 degree Celsius average warming to something 'catastrophic' worldwide." However, they explain, "so far, we have seen no specific papers alluding to anything so specific."
This includes, they believe, even major weather events and the rising sea level, the first of which, they argue, despite being brought to the forefront of our consciousness through vigilant and extreme media coverage, lacks "hard evidence of anything that has not been see before, and well before, the last few decades."
As for the rise in sea level, it states, "the only real sources of significant sea level rise are the Greenland ice sheets and those in Antarctica." And, it says, there are no projections for either to produce large meltwater for another few centuries.
For these reasons, the group ultimately argues that the threat of "net harmful total global warming" is "not immediate and thus does not require swift corrective action."
Rather, they believe, "A potential global warming issue has been identified that should be treated as a potential problem for which root cause is not definitely known."
For this reason, they argue, the U.S. government is "over-reacting" to the concerns of the media, scientists and activists and that a more "rational process for allocation of research funds without the constant media hype of an AGW crisis is needed."
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