Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/25/2013 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Catholic Online interviews Dr. Roy Spencer.

Many of our readers have urged Catholic Online to interview Dr. Roy Spencer as a leading, qualified skeptic on the issue of anthropogenic global warming. On Monday, Marshall Connolly interviewed Dr. Spencer to hear his expert opinions on the issue.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, NASA scientist, and climate researcher.

Dr. Roy Spencer is a meteorologist, NASA scientist, and climate researcher.

Article Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/25/2013 (11 months ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Global warming, climate change, skeptic, science, Roy Spencer


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Spencer, thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions. As our readers know, I generally accept that humans are contributing significantly to global climate change. In response, several readers have asked that I interview you for some additional insight into the subject.

COL: Could you please start by telling our readers who may be unfamiliar, who you are and a little about your background?

Spencer: I have a PhD in meteorology and have been doing climate research for over 20 years, mostly under contract to NASA, NOAA, and DOE. I have testified in congress several times on the general subject of climate change. I have published two popular books on the global warming issue; I also have an amateur interest in basic economics, having self-published a small book which is now used in a college economics course.  My research has always been supported 100% by the U.S. Government.

COL: Well, let's cut to the chase. Is the planet warming?

SPENCER: No one knows whether it is currently warming, because we only see warming "in the rearview mirror"...after it has occurred.  Warming of the global average surface temperature seems to have stopped about 15 years ago, although there is some evidence that the deep ocean has continued to warm by hundredths of a degree.  Global average surface temperatures have definitely warmed in the last 50 to 100 years, by an amount which increases northward.

COL: When we look at the ice caps, particularly the Arctic, they show dramatic loss of sea ice. The images are very clear and the overall loss during the summer is about 40 percent, using the most recent data from the Cryosphere pages. (I think about 7 percent in the winter?) Regardless of the percentages, it's visibly significant. What's happening?

SPENCER:
We started satellite monitoring of sea ice in 1979, after an extended cold period in the Arctic.  It is entirely possible that summer sea ice meltback now is no worse than it was back in the 1920's and 1930's, when ship explorers reported unprecedented warming and sea ice and glacier changes in the Arctic.  Humans could not have been responsible for that event, so how can we know the extent to which we are responsible for the current melting event in the Arctic?  Also, since 1979, sea ice around Antarctica has gradually increased, not decreased, which climate models have not been able to explain.

COL: We are experiencing a variety of other seemingly unique weather phenomenons such as superstorms, tornado outbreaks, rising sea levels, and the increasingly frequent closing of locks on the North Sea (Netherlands and UK, River Thames). Isn't this evidence of warming?

SPENCER: There has been no increase in "superstorms" or tornadoes, by any objective long-term measure. It is an urban myth. Sandy-class storms occur every year...they just don't happen to hit high population density areas. But sea levels have indeed increased, which probably is a sign of warming. But sea levels were rising long before we could have been to blame, since well before 1900. So, once again, it is difficult to attribute the current rate of rise, which is very slow, to humans when we don't know how much of the rise is natural.

COL: Recent reports suggest that the oceans are absorbing most of the heat, keeping surface temperatures moderated. What's your take on these conclusions?

SPENCER: Yes, it is possible that the deep ocean is absorbing more of the extra heat than was expected. Because the oceans are so deep and so cold (most of the global ocean mass is around 40 deg F), they could theoretically absorb all of the extra heating caused by increasing CO2, with a further ocean temperature rise of maybe a tenth of a degree. But we have no way of knowing yet whether this is indeed what is happening, and if it is, whether it would continue to happen. We must remember that the CO2-induced change in the Earth's ability to cool to outer space, which can only be calculated based upon theory,  has only been reduced by 1%.  That's a very weak forcing of the climate system. The warming of the deep ocean since the 1950's to present only amounts to a 0.2% change, exceedingly small.

COL: Let's say tomorrow, evidence is found that proves to everyone that global warming as a result of human released emissions of CO2 and methane, is real. What would you suggest we do?

SPENCER: I would say we need to grow the economy as fast as possible, in order to afford the extra R&D necessary to develop new energy technologies. Current solar and wind technologies are too expensive, unreliable, and can only replace a small fraction of our energy needs. Since the economy runs on inexpensive energy, in order to grow the economy we will need to use fossil fuels to create that extra wealth. In other words, we will need to burn even more fossil fuels in order to find replacements for fossil fuels.

COL: Why is there such a dramatic consensus in the scientific community that AGW is real? Is this "consensus" a myth?

SPENCER: The consensus is only that humans are contributing to warming...even I would probably agree with such an innocuous statement.  But even if a majority of scientists think manmade global warming is a serious problem, only a very small number of those scientists know enough about such a detailed subject to have an informed opinion on the subject.  Only a few of us actively working on questions "how sensitive is the climate system?" know the dirty details of this business and how much uncertainty there is. Most climate researchers simply assume recent warming is manmade, but human causation is only one possible explanation out of several.

COL:  What should we do given the current state of affairs? Should we continue to study this issue or are we wasting resources?

SPENCER: I tell people that it is theoretically possible that Al Gore is correct. Unfortunately, the subject has become so politicized -- specifically, driven by desired policy outcomes that have huge financial winners and losers -- that the science has been almost hopelessly corrupted. I and a few others have told congress we need a "red team" approach, where some small fraction of government funding of climate research be put into natural causes of climate change.  Believe it or not, there is very little research into that subject.

COL: Dr. Spencer, simply as a human interest question, tell me about a time that you were wrong.

SPENCER:
Oh, I have been wrong many times.  In research, we usually are wrong with our initial opinions of causation in nature. I tell people, it's much easier to be wrong than right, because there are so many potential explanations for what we see in nature. But I usually determine in a matter of days, weeks, or months that I was wrong. I have seen nothing yet to change my view built up over years of research which tells me that we really have no way of knowing how much of our current warmth is human-caused versus natural. And even if it is 100% human caused, the warming has been only 50% of what the consensus of climate models say it should be, and if the scientific consensus ever changes to reflect that, we will have then bought ourselves twice as much time to solve the problem.

Dr. Spencer, thank you for your time.

Readers can visit Dr. Spencer's website by clicking here.

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Green

MONSTER El Nino forming in South Pacific, will being devastating weather around the globe in 2014-2015 Watch

Image of We may see a sharp increase in severe weather events for 2014-2015.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to scientists, a massive El Nino is forming in the Pacific and it may be the largest such El Nino ever recorded. If true then the entire planet may experience an uptick in extreme weather events with serious consequences for life and property around the ... continue reading


World must turn to wind and solar to combat global warming, report says Watch

Image of Scientists are optimistic that if renewable energy is quickly rolled out, homes are built in a more sustainable and energy efficient way, and human consumption and wastefulness is changed, climate change can be controlled.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The world must turn to the wind or sun for its energy needs -- or face catastrophic consequences wrought by climate change. That's the news from a recent report from the United Nations on global warming. These devastating effects could take place as early as 15 ... continue reading


Former Indonesian tropical paradise reduced to garbage dump Watch

Image of The water at times turns red, green, yellow and black because of the high concentration of dyes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As people in China's most air polluted cities cheerfully don face masks, a fisherman on Indonesia's Citarum River has blankly accepted his polluted fate. Once searching for fish, Herman, the name of the fisherman proffered to news reporters says he now looks ... continue reading


THIRD Oarfish sighting in Sea of Cortez stokes earthquake fears Watch

Image of A tour guide lies beside a beached oarfish specimen on the Isla San Francisco in Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An oarfish has been found washed on an island beach in Mexico, leading to speculation if it is one of the two previously sighted and filmed last month, or if it is in fact a third specimen. If it is a third, it could fuel rumors of an earthquake since anecdotal ... continue reading


Japanese island consumes another in unusual volcanic activity Watch

Image of Two volcanic craters are shown on Niijima on November 22. The island emerged about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Islands, also known as the Bonin Islands.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a spate of highly unusual volcanic activity, one Japanese island has merged with another nearby island. Niijima Island, a volcano which broke through the ocean's surface last November, has now merged with a nearby island that formed from a volcano which last ... continue reading


Are these oarfish in Mexico predicting an earthquake? Tourists film TWO live oarfish trying to beach themselves Watch

Image of Oarfish are legendary harbingers of earthquakes.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing new video shows two oarfish swimming just offshore in Mexico to the delight of ecotourists on a kayaking tour. The video, taken last March, shows the pair of fish possibly about to beach themselves. Oarfish are rarely sighted and legend associates their ... continue reading


MASS EXTINCTION: All life on Earth went extinct 252 million years ago Watch

Image of The Permian-Triassic extinction has been defined as a natural event that heated up the Earth's biological systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Nearly all life on Earth became extinct 252 million years ago. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT scientists, the culprit was not an asteroid striking the planet, but a methane-spewing microbe. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Daniel ... continue reading


Bison, elk appear to be fleeing Yellowstone. Is supervolcano eruption eminent? Watch

Image of A supervolcano under Yellowstone could cause mass extinctions if it erupted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talk of a supervolcano eruption in Yellowstone National Park has hit the blogosphere after several people have posted videos of animals fleeing the sanctuary. A supervolcano eruption would destroy everything for hundreds of miles around and would plunge the planet into ... continue reading


Global warming is inevitable: It's time for a new ecology. Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The latest revelation from climate scientists is that they now believe global climate change as a result of human activities is now inevitable and irreversible. Furthermore, it will affect everybody in the years to come-if it hasn't already. It is nigh time for a new ... continue reading


REPORT: Climate change will be 'severe, pervasive and irreversible' to human race Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There's been a meeting in Japan on climate change and the news coming out of it is uniformly grim. Scientists and officials now say that impacts of climate change include a higher risk of flooding and changes to crop yields and water availability. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-9
4 Lord Yahweh has given me a disciple's tongue, for ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
8 I am estranged from my brothers, alienated from my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 16th, 2014 Image

St. Bernadette
April 16: On April 16, 1879, Bernadette -- or Sister Marie-Bernard, as she ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter