Is global warming a hoax? Catholic Online interviews a skeptic
Dr. Mark Hendrickson shares his view.
Over the past two weeks, Catholic Online had the opportunity to interview Global Warming skeptic and author, Dr. Mark Hendrickson who is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
Dr. Mark Hendrickson is a published writer and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.
I came across Dr. Mark Hendrickson, a widely published conservative commentator and writer. His article on Forbes.com, which we republished here, gave me pause and an opportunity to consider some noteworthy arguments against anthropogenic global warming.
Although I remain concerned about the issue as a problem created by poor creation care on the part of humanity, I wholeheartedly agree that we should provide another viewpoint for our reader's discussion and consideration. I will also admit that Dr. Hendrickson makes some points that are worth consideration.
I interviewed Dr. Hendrickson by phone and by email, to get his answers to a few questions I had. Before reading the interview, I suggest you read his article originally published on Forbes.com. It will provide some context to the current interview.
Hello Mark, and thank you for taking the time to chat with a global warming believer.
COL: Now Mark, what qualifies you to speak as an expert on Global Warming?
HENDRICKSON: I hesitate to describe myself as an expert, inasmuch as that word might best be reserved for climate scientists. I am, however, comfortable with describing myself as knowledgeable about the subject. I have followed it for over 20 years.
There are similarities between the study of economics and the study of climate change-specifically, the fact that nobody can predict the future, because there are far too many factors for anyone to know, and also due to the constant possibility of X factors (unanticipated events) happening.
I think my training as an economist and a logical thinker enables me to detect at least some fallacies, lapses in logic, or manipulation-in short, I have a pretty well developed crap detector. Certainly, any reasonably intelligent person can detect inconsistencies in arguments. (Perhaps the outstanding example of this: The admission by the late global-warming enthusiast, Stephen Schneider that, throughout history, warm periods PRECEDED rises in atmospheric CO2. We all know that cause cannot follow effect.)
I agree with the climate scientist who described the climate as a "coupled nonlinear, chaotic system"-a fancy way of saying, "unpredictable." That means that I do not hold a position as to whether the world will get warmer or cooler in coming decades, because I don't know-and neither does anyone else.
COL: Global warming, real or a hoax?
HENDRICKSON: If, by global warming, you mean do I think the climate has warmed over the last 100-150 years, the answer is yes. The world emerged from a little ice age in the 19th century. We should be getting warmer now.
Is the theory of man-made global warming a hoax? I think so. Let's say either a hoax or an error. It's a hoax when perpetrated by those who let a political agenda shape science rather than the other way around. Otherwise, I believe it to be an error. A principal reason I make that assertion is because many of the advocates of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory have abandoned their own theory. For years they tried to convince us that the more CO2 humans injected into the atmosphere, the hotter the world would get. Now, after 15 or so years of no warming, they admit that the world could cool for 40-50 years even as total CO2 emissions continue to increase. What may one deduce from this? Answer: At the very least, that other factors outweigh CO2 in terms of impact on the climate, and at most, that CO2 is not a significant factor in climate change.
COL: What about all those graphs showing some degree of climate change? I'm not really talking about the infamous hockey stick, but just the multitude of graphs which reveal some degree of warming. What's the deal with those?
HENDRICKSON: Graphs? They're only as good as the data entered into them. It's the same with computer programs-garbage in garbage out, the oldest principle of computer science. At one point in the 1990s, there were two-dozen major computer programs dedicated to explaining and projecting future climate change, but no two of the 24 computer programs came to the same conclusion. That leaves two possibilities: 23 of the 24 computer programs are wrong, in which case the problem is how do you know which of the 24 to rely upon? Or, they all are wrong. Neither choice is very palatable, nor lends much heft to the arguments of those insisting in AGW.
COL: The satellite data doesn't lie. Images show the Arctic ice cap is shrinking, the Antarctic ice cap is thinning, the tundra is greening, and the temperatures, particularly about the Earth's poles, is warming. Sea level has risen so that coastal communities in Alaska and the Pacific are relocating and locks on the Thames and in the Netherlands must now close more frequently. We have also seen an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events. Isn't this evidence enough that's something's happening?
HENDRICKSON: Satellite data showed no statistically significant warming in the last two or three decades. Other scientific data show that the Antarctic ice cap is adding 27,000,000,000 tons of ice per year. I believe that the last two or three winters have seen much more ice in the Arctic that in the years immediately prior to that, but it is an essentially irrelevant point. Arctic ice should be of no concern because the Arctic is an open ocean, and according to Archimedes' principle, the water level will be the same whether it is frozen or in liquid form.
During the medieval warm period, which was warmer than today, coastal areas and supposedly climate sensitive races like Greenland were not being inundated.
As for an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events, that is very much under dispute, what is known as that we are more aware of such events because of increased media coverage and because of increased population density. As for whether there are actually more such events, that is an open question at best.
COL: I read what you wrote about Al Gore's use of Global Warming as his "political hobgoblin." I'm no fan of Gore and his video didn't convince me of much either. Still, that's a fairly bold statement. Do you have any evidence that shows Gore was deliberately using GW as a hobgoblin to frighten the masses? Right or wrong, could it be he is sincere in his concern?
HENDRICKSON: Whether Mr. Gore is sincere or cynical is something I'm in no position to judge. There can be no doubt though that Mr. Gore has pursued a politically activist agenda designed to channel money into alternative energies in which he has been invested and from which he has profited greatly. In other words, he has a vested financial interest and a conflict of interest in his policy advocacy.
COL: My understanding is that there is a strong consensus among climatologists that global warming is real and that it's a threat. You say this isn't so. Tell me about your figures.
HENDRICKSON: Consensus is a political concept, not a scientific concept. Consensus is not truth. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine obtained over 30,000 signatures by scientists with advanced degrees urging our government to take no radical actions to combat alleged global warming.
COL: If less than 20 percent of scientists once believed global warming was a threat, what caused all of them to change their mind? New, more accurate data, or something else?
HENDRICKSON: There is a double standard in the media in regard to scientists speaking on the global warming issue. If they are in the private sector, and perhaps have received funding from an energy company, their word is automatically discredited. On the other hand, if their funding depends on federal grants, they are automatically believed.
One phenomenon that has concerned me over the years is that most of the AGW skeptics have been older scientists-those who have retired or are economically independent. In fact, there have been several prominent scientists who, upon resigning from government employment, immediately began to speak out against the AGW theory. Sorry I can't recall the names. One was the first woman to get a doctorate in-mmm, meteorology? That may not be the right discipline.
Where do you get your numbers "proving" or documenting that most scientists now agree with AGW theory???
COL: Let's say there's just no such thing as global warming. The climate is fine. Shouldn't we still practice good stewardship or what I call, creation care? In other words, shouldn't we avoid wonton CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution because it is simply wrong to litter and pollute?
HENDRICKSON: Of course we should practice commonsense stewardship. I disagree, though, with the characterization of CO2 as a pollutant. Oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide (which, being a necessary nutrient of plant life, sits as the base of the human food chain) are the three most essential building blocks of life on earth.
COL: Now, let's say global warming is a real and serious threat. What do we do about it?
HENDRICKSON: Whatever we do, let us not cripple ourselves economically, because at some future time, when a genuine and serious environmental danger arises, we will need every resource at our disposal to cope with such an eventuality. Keep our powder dry and not waste it tilting at windmills.
COL: Mark, thank you for taking the time to field these questions.
HENDRICKSON: And thank you for your willingness to let your readers hear another side of the issue.
Catholic Online remains open to interviewing experts on either side of this discussion. If you feel you have a strong background of professional experience in this subject, please feel free to contact me at: email@example.com. Catholic Online is seeking published, peer-reviewed scientists with unique expertise on the subject for interview.
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