Look about you and you will see climate change dissenters everywhere–Everywhere except in climate science. On this issue, those scientists who question the conclusions made by the general scientific population are generally silenced or their opinions are shunned.
Dr. John Christy is one of those dissenters. He is the distinguished professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and he has also served as a lead author on the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This is my second email interview with Dr. Christy. See the first here.
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Beaman: According to the EPA, “since 1970, average annual temperatures in the Southeast region have increased by about 2°F.” How should we understand that number? Is it an average measure of ocean temperatures, as well as atmospheric temperatures, together?
Christy: This is a claim designed to mislead the public. The truth is the SE temperatures have risen since the coldest years of the 1970s, but if you go back further, we are cooler now than we were in the 1930s and other years. In fact, the long-term temperature trend here is downward.
Beaman: What factors can contribute to see level rise? Can things like
erupting underwater volcanoes contribute to warming seas and sea-level
Christy: Numerous factors – massive silt deposits from rivers (and erosion of farmland), new dams which hold back huge volumes of water from reaching the sea, sinking coastal lands from extraction of water/natural gas/oil, etc., warming of the sea water itself (water expands), ice on land that melts (130,000 years ago the sea was 20 feet higher because more ice had melted than has so far this inter-glacial), etc.
Beaman: A recent Time magazine article discussing California’s water problems said this: “…The state’s water struggles are far from over. For one, nobody knows for sure how long these rains will last… the accuracy of storm forecasting remains unreliable beyond a week.” And yet, scientists arguing that climate change is provoked by human activity rely on long-range models, advocating for policy changes based upon predictions of what will happen in fifty years, in some cases.
Is this a contradiction, that long-range models are accurate and short are not, or are long-term projections more easily solidified than short-term, in the world of weather and climate?
Christy: Long-range models are notoriously poor as I have shown (see my testimony to congress). They have not been validated in any sense – simply guesses at this point. A quote from my last paper says that the models have “no skill” based on the evidence I wrote about. I have published papers on California climate too and have shown that its long-term variations are huge and that nothing extraordinary is happening now.
Beaman: Another Time article reads as follows: “The discipline of science is one where the facts, once they are peer-reviewed and published in scientific journals, are fixed. They’re not open to interpretation, or at least not much.” What do you think about that claim?
Christy: That is hogwash. Peer-reviewed articles can have tremendous errors (for example the Hockey Stick temperature record by Mann was highly publicized as “science” yet was later shown to be erroneous due to a flawed mathematical technique and the use of poor data). “Peer review” is absolutely no guarantee of accuracy.
Beaman: The Earth is a dangerous place to live, and as far as I know, always has been. Geology tells us that volcanic eruptions wiped out entire herds in epochs past. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa killed, according to modest estimates, upwards of 36,000 people. The eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia in 1985 killed more than 20,000. Tsunamis in Thailand and Japan, in 2004 and 2011 respectively, killed about 21,000 people combined. I assume some would argue that recent disasters were catalyzed by climate change, but: would you say that people have a general scientific ignorance about the harm that Earth has caused in the
past, without any particular influence of “anthropogenic” climate change?
Christy: The natural climate system can be very dangerous – if we are resilient to those threats, we will be OK from any human-caused climate tinkering.