WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Choose science, stewardship in understanding climate change

Posted October 12, 2015

Greg Fishel prepares for a video shoot at Loveland Pass.

After attending a Climate Change and Coastal Impact workshop in Beaufort, N.C., this past weekend, I think it is about time to call a spade a spade. As I have stated, I hate agendas, and there are agendas on both sides of the climate change debate which I abhor and have no time for.

But once you cut through all of that, much of which is ideological and political, you are left with hard science.

We have known for almost 200 years what gases make up our atmosphere, and what the radiative properties of those gases are. We know for a fact that the pre-industrial revolution levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the difference between life and death on this planet. In other words, without the natural levels of these gases, the earth would be an iceball and uninhabitable. That is fact, not conjecture.

We know for a fact that the earth's temperature is rising, and that it's not the sun. If it were the sun, the entire atmosphere would be warming, but it's not. The troposphere, where most of the weather occurs, is warming up, and the stratosphere is cooling. This is all part of the radiative adjustments that are taking place because of what man is doing to the composition of our atmosphere.

Satellites confirm that the amount of long-wave radiation leaving the earth is decreasing and is emanating from a higher and higher altitude. Again, the exact response one would expect from human forces.

We know for a fact that the lifetime of carbon dioxide molecules is on the order of hundreds and even thousands of years, unlike water vapor molecules whose lifetime in the atmosphere is just shy of two weeks.

And on top of all of this, we hear the argument that it is economic suicide for the U.S. to act alone, and that we need the cooperation of China and India. Did you know both of those countries are leaving us in the dust when it comes to pursuing new technologies relating to energy production? Those countries see the economic opportunity and are going after it while we sit around and have politically partisan arguments.

And oh by the way, I am not for a one-world government. I love capitalism, but how 'bout we pursue something I like to call 'capitalism with ethics?' Let's not legislate morality, but rather enact it voluntarily through our actions. For people of faith, stewardship is more than the money drive in the fall. It's about taking care of things entrusted to you. For Christians, are we really followers of Christ, or just like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago who were so misguided they totally missed the point of Christ's teachings? I know I am more the latter than the former, and it's about time I wake up and smell the coffee.

We live in a country now where we embrace division for the sake of division. Oh, we disguise it as loyalty to principles and to God, but I suggest to you that this is unadulterated bunk. It's about winning and being right as opposed to doing what's best for the country and the world.

We need to stop hiding behind our computers and iPhones, in order to launch verbal missiles at those we disagree with and have no intention of getting to know or trying to understand. We have no interest in even considering the possibility of being wrong about anything. Oh, what shame that would bring upon us. Really? Being wrong is a blessing and an opportunity to learn. It is something to embrace!

Bob Inglis, former congressman from South Carolina and a conservative Republican, knows what it is to think outside the box. When it comes to climate change, he had to admit he was wrong, and that he was coming at this issue in a purely partisan manner. He now is trying to engage other conservatives to look at this in a different way and to sit down with members of the other party and say, "Hey you have some good ideas and we have some good ideas. Let's take the best of the best and do something good for our country."

If I could "copy and paste" Bob's mindset 536 times, one for each member of our Congress and our President, I would do it in a heartbeat. Then it would no longer matter what the makeup of Congress was because everyone would be there for all the right reasons.

In closing, I believe science is a gift from God. We benefit from science in our daily lives 1,000 times over through all the conveniences we enjoy. Why have we chosen to turn our back on science when it comes to basic chemistry and physics? It is time to stop listening to the disingenuous cherry-pickers and start taking responsibility for learning the truth about climate change.

For those of you who are ardent skeptics, it's going to be uncomfortable. I know, I have gone through the entire process. But in my mind, I didn't make a mistake, I simply grew as a human being. There aren't too many experiences in life that can top that.


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  • Will Smith Dec 14, 2015
    user avatar

    Greg, you are right to be skeptical about the science of climatology but not for the reasons you think. I have done a lot of research and I know what is wrong with climatology. I do not have a position on anthropomorphic warming, but I have learned what is wrong with the science of climatology. How is the best way to get in touch with you to discuss this?


  • Franklin Nanney Oct 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Referencing the post below, the NOAA's sea level data comes from satellite altimetry, so I guess since you say satellites are much better at measuring data, then the NOAA data is correct. Where is this evidence of tampering? Again, I will trust the PhD's / climate experts at NOAA and NASA. The deniers are the scammers.

  • Dave Gerken Oct 23, 2015
    user avatar

    Another satellite data denier. Satellites are much better at detecting temperature than sea level rise.... but we apparently are supposed to believe the sea level data and ignore the temp. data which hasn't increased in nearly 19 years.

    Meanwhile, the evidence of tampering in the surface record accellerates more every year. I encourage everyone to go and read James Hansen's 1981 paper which shows historic temperatures and compare it to today's charts. They are unrecognizable. This is a scam of historic proportions.

  • Franklin Nanney Oct 19, 2015
    user avatar

    Great article Greg! I whole-heartedly agree with your view on stewardship over money and "capitalism with ethics". To the gentleman below who referenced NOAA data, I popped over to NOAA.gov and searched on the sea level rise. The following article seems to dispute your claim that sea level rise isn't accelerating: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html. No disrespect but I will side with the NOAA who I trust with my weather, severe weather, hurricane, long term climate forecasts etc...

    The NOAA also posts sea level trends at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.shtml

    Again, it looks like the trend across most of the US is accelerating.

  • Grayson Privette Oct 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Greg: Right. On. Target. Couldn't have written this better myself as far as being sick of the intrusion of partisanship into so much of this debate. This took a lot of courage to write, and I'm glad WRAL gave you the ability to write about something so close to your heart. As someone who is not a fan of either political party, but is a person of faith who loves science (not mutually exclusive), I am backing you all the way on this. Beautifully composed! Of course, all you may see on this comments section is something to the effect of either "Great, Greg is a liberal, now I won't watch him anymore" or "Ha, I told you so, you dumb conservatives...", which only perpetuates our current (divisive) state of affairs. Sigh. Grateful you are both a voice of faith and of rational thought--rare these days.

  • Dave Burton Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    The scientific evidence for climate alarmism is so weak that even the Obama Administration has trouble finding reliable climate alarmists to promote The Cause. That should tell you something. Dr. Steven Koonin was President Obama's Undersecretary for Science in the Energy Department during Obama's first term. He's a liberal, through-and-through, of course. But after he left that position, he finally felt at liberty to tell the inconvenient truth. He wrote, “Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today.”

  • Dave Burton Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Greg, even though mankind has been driving up CO2 levels substantially for about 70 years, none of the hypothetical adverse effects of that additional CO2 actually seem to be happening.

    Some scientists have speculated that anthropogenic CO2 could cause an increase in extreme weather events, but that hasn't happened.

    Accelerated sea-level rise is supposed to be the worst of the adverse effects. On Al Gore's book cover, half of Florida is shown under water! But the truth is that, even though fossil fuel use has been driving up atmospheric CO2 levels for over 70 years, the rate of sea level rise hasn't increased at all. That fact is obvious from any long-term, high-quality, sea-level record, like this one from Australia:

    Form Image

  • Dave Burton Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Here's an illustration from Scientific American, showing the "fertilization effect" of anthropogenic CO2 on potatoes:
    Form Image

  • Dave Burton Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Greg, the bulk of scientific evidence indicates that anthropogenic CO2 is beneficial to both mankind and natural ecosystems, and the warming which results from it is modest and benign.

    Atmospheric CO2 is the basic building block of plant life, from which plants extract the carbon they need to grow. But at just 0.04% of the atmosphere, CO2 is in chronically short supply in the atmosphere. That's why commercial greenhouse operators customarily boost CO2 levels to about three times that level, because it dramatically improves plant growth. Scientific American called anthropogenic CO2 the "precious air fertilizer."Fortunately, anthropogenic CO2 emissions have eased the CO2 shortage a bit. Over the last 70 years, we've increased the average outdoor CO2 level from about 0.03% to 0.04%. The result has been a huge increase in agricultural productivity. About 15-20% of current worldwide agricultural production is now directly due to the "fertilization effect" of that additional CO2.

  • Dave Burton Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Greg, here's another excellent tide gauge record of sea-level, which NOAA analyzed. At Landsort, Sweden, sea-level is falling, because of post-glacial rebound. (The land is rising faster than the sea.) As you can see, there's been no deceleration in the rate of sea-level decline there, despite ~3/4 century of intense anthropogenic CO2 emissions:
    Form ImageIt's the same everywhere: the measurements all show that anthropogenic CO2 has caused no detectable acceleration in sea-level rise.

    BTW, I was a U.N. IPCC AR5 WG1 Expert Reviewer, and a member of the NC Sea Level Rise Impact Study Advisory Committee, and I'm the webmaster of http://www.sealevel.info (where you can find my contact info). I'm also a Board member and Science Advisor to NC-20. I live here in Cary, and I'd be delighted to talk with you or anyone else about these issues, and I'll do my best to answer any questions.