Obama's Climate Change Agenda
by Henry W. Burke
Many environmentalists have changed the term "global warming" to "global climate change" because they have not been able to decide whether the earth is getting warmer or cooler. The new invented term of "global climate change" is a "safe bet" for them because it covers either situation.
No authentic scientific data proves that there is a correlation between man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) and global warming, and there is also no proof that the current warming trend is caused by the rise of man-made CO2.
If all of the Antarctica ice melted, sea levels would rise around the world about 200 feet; but because the average temperature in Antarctica is -37o C, the ice there is never going to melt. In fact, the Antarctica has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole. Additionally, glaciers are getting larger on K-2, the second highest mountain in the world.
When the Obama Administration's "Cap and Tax" bill failed in 2009, they simply made an end run around Congress and turned to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to accomplish what they could not do through legislative means.
The EPA has undertaken a significant power grab by declaring that greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) endanger human health and threaten the environment. The EPA's plan to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) would cause $7 trillion in lost activity and the loss of 3 million jobs!
In Barack Obama's Inaugural Address on January 21, 2013, he stated:
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
Based on this address and his past actions, it is obvious that Obama has bought the global warming lie and is using this to further his income redistribution and "sustainable energy" agenda.
Global warming proponents (like Al Gore) have been making dire predictions that the polar ice caps and glaciers are rapidly melting, which will result in rising sea levels and flooding of the coastal cities. They claim that tornadoes and hurricanes are getting worse, and polar bears are becoming extinct. The global warming advocates are telling us that mankind is doomed unless we take immediate drastic actions.
When it comes to global warming, raw subjectivity has replaced the scientific method. Many scientists and researchers began with preconceived notions and theories and then proceeded to find ways to support them. Ideology is controlling the conclusions instead of true science.
I will provide a reasoned, logical and factual approach to global warming. Scientific facts are extremely important when we are making decisions that impact our economy and country.
Author's Experience in Air Pollution Control
I served as a Sanitary Engineer in the National Air Pollution Control Administration (NAPCA) from 1968 to 1970. Our group developed air quality criteria documents for various air pollutants (sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxidants, and nitrogen oxides). We also formulated air quality control standards and approved regional air quality standards. Shortly after I left the organization, NAPCA was integrated into the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Most people would agree that today's air quality is much better than it was 40 years ago. I am proud that I played a small part in cleaning up our nation's air. Many civil engineers spend their careers designing and building systems that improve the quality of our air and water. I know that clean air is important; however, I strongly believe that our approach should be based on sound science, not on political ideology and "junk science."
The Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is real and helps to regulate the temperature of our planet. It is the result of heat absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere (called greenhouse gases because they trap heat in the lower atmosphere). The Earth’s greenhouse effect is good because it keeps the Earth warm and makes our planet habitable. Without a natural greenhouse effect, the temperature of the Earth would be about zero degrees F (-18 ºC) instead of its present 57 ºF (14 ºC). If the Earth did not have the greenhouse effect, it would probably look a lot like Mars!
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) make up about 1 % - 2 % of the Earth’s atmosphere. Approximately 95 % of the greenhouse gases are water vapor; 3.62 % are carbon dioxide (CO2); and 1.38 % are other gases. Stated differently, CO2 makes up about 0.04 % of the Earth’s atmosphere.
What are the sources of CO2? Carbon dioxide is a by-product of the combustion of organic matter. Nature contributes 96.6 % of the annual CO2 emissions, and humans produce 3.4 % of the emissions. Several sources contribute to the greenhouse effect. Water vapor provides 95 %; ocean biologic activity, volcanoes, decaying plants, animal activity, etc. contribute 4.72 %; and humans contribute 0.28 % of the greenhouse effect. In other words, humans are responsible for about one-quarter of 1 percent of the greenhouse effect.
Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming
The basic premise (first assumption) behind global warming is that increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing the Earth’s atmosphere to become warmer. The NCPA report indicates:
Over long periods of time, there is no close relationship between CO2 levels and temperature. The Earth’s average temperature has risen a little less than 1oC over the past century. Although almost half of this warming occurred before 1940, greenhouse gas emissions began to rise substantially only after the 1950s.
The second assumption with global warming is that CO2 is a poison. I have never seen a health effect study that showed CO2 was a poison and was harmful to humans. When we were developing air quality criteria documents in NAPCA for the various air pollutants, we would have ridiculed anyone who suggested that carbon dioxide was an air pollutant! CO2 is not an air pollutant and it is not a poison!
We exhale CO2 and much of it is taken up by plants. Actually, about 40 % of CO2 is reabsorbed by plants and trees. The statistics on carbon dioxide emissions usually disregard the percentage that is reabsorbed by plants.
The third assumption is that climate change models can actually predict the atmospheric temperature. These models produce drastically different results and are highly inconsistent. The climate model graphs in the NCPA publication show dramatically different predictions, ranging from 1 oC to 5 oC temperature increases from 1990 to 2050. Several other climate models predicted a warmer 1990s, but that decade actually turned out to be slightly cooler. The warming proponents' climate models have been abysmal failures!
The key to the global warming alarmists’ work is to tie increasing atmospheric temperatures to higher levels of CO2, but not just any CO2; it must be CO2 produced by human activities (anthropogenic).
Have the global warming proponents considered the effects of solar activity on the earth’s temperature? Why have the global warmers largely ignored the temperature readings taken from satellites?
Many environmentalists are using the term “global climate change” instead of “global warming.” Apparently they haven’t decided whether the earth is getting warmer or cooler; with the new term, they are covered either way. Also, they can throw tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, and droughts into the mix under the broader "climate change" label.
Even though some environmentalists try to say that global warming causes an increase in hurricane activity, scientific evidence does not support this theory. There is no correlation between man-made CO2 and hurricanes, tornadoes, precipitation, drought, forest fires, or human disease.
Global Temperature Trends
For nearly 50 years, and through literally thousands of research papers presented in the refereed scientific literature, scientists established that the earth’s climate has hardly been stable or constant. Between 4,000 and 7,000 years ago, the earth’s mean temperature was some 1-2 degrees Celsius (1-2 ºC) higher than it is today, for largely unknown reasons.
Three distinct categories of temperature records are gathered: surface, satellites, and weather-balloons. Even though the satellite and weather balloon data are collected in different ways, there is very good agreement.
Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys, and gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with earth-orbiting satellite measurements. Weather balloons have been used to measure the earth's temperature since the late 1940s; satellites have been recording the earth's temperature since 1979.
These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change.
The (U.S.) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates the National Climatic Data Center. According to a recent report (Global Climate Change Indicators):
Global average temperature is one of the most-cited indicators of global climate change, and shows an increase of approximately 1.4°F since the early 20th Century.
[This is 0.78 ºC per century, or 0.078 ºC per decade.]
The Cato Institute report states that the rate of warming observed from surface stations is 0.28 º F per decade. During the period of overlapping observations, the rate of warming in the troposphere measured by satellites is 0.25 º F per decade.
[This would be 2.5 º F per century]
Contiguous United States Temperatures
NOAA also provides temperature data for the Contiguous United States. When a researcher is analyzing temperature trends, the variables must be considered. The base period, starting and ending dates, and filters will affect the results. From the NOAA website, the following temperature trends are obtained:
1. 1895 - 2012 Data Values, Base Period is 1961 - 1990:
Trend = 0.09 ºF per decade (0.05 ºC per decade)
2. 1950 - 2012 Data Values, Base Period is 1961 - 1990:
Trend = 0.44 ºF per decade (0.24 ºC per decade)
3. 1970 - 2012 Data Values, Base Period is 1961 - 1990:
Trend = 0.51 ºF per decade (0.28 ºC per decade)
4. 1997 - 2012 Data Values, Base Period is 1961 - 1990:
Trend = - 0.71 ºF per decade (- 0.39 ºC per decade)
For the full period from 1895 to 2012, the temperature trend is 0.09 ºF per decade. For the much shorter recent period from 1997 to 2012, the temperature trend is (a declining) - 0.71 ºF per decade.
Does Carbon Dioxide Cause Global Warming?
Temperatures are increasing somewhat as we recover from the "Little Ice Age" that occurred in the early 1800s. It may become warmer without any human assistance.
Global average surface temperatures increased approximately 0.7 ºF in the early part of the Twentieth Century (1910 - 1945), before changing atmospheric composition (added CO2) could have had much influence on the climate. In mid-century, temperatures fell slightly. From 1977 - 1997, global temperatures increased another 0.7 ºF. In 1998, a very strong El Nino event resulted in record temperatures in 1998. The rate of warming at the surface is about 0.28 ºF per decade.
Noted atmospheric physicist Dr. Fred Singer points out that the World Meteorological Organization (UN-WMO) purposely confuses two different concepts -- global temperatures and global temperature trends.
Dr. Singer stated:
The current warming trend is not unusual: Climate is always either warming or cooling, and ice is either melting or accumulating…The human contribution to global warming appears to be quite small and natural climate factors are dominant.
There is no proof at all that the current warming is caused by the rise of greenhouse gases from human activities, such as the generation of energy from the burning of fuels.
(Letter to the Editor: The Wall Street Journal, June 20, 2006)
Estimates show that CO2 levels have risen about 35 % since the beginning of the industrial revolution with more than 80 % of that rise occurring since 1950. CO2 concentrations in 1750 were about 275 ppm (parts per million) and were about 370 ppm in 2000.
Engineer and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan prepared a startling chart of human CO2 emissions versus global temperature data. The temperatures were based on the IPCC / HadCRUT Dataset (UK -- Met Office Hadley Centre and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia). [Some people call this dataset the "gold standard" for global temperature.]
The chart shows that global temperatures from 1.01.83 - 12.31.97 had a linear trend of + 1.44 ºC per century (2.59 ºF per century). During that period, human CO2 emissions were 331 gigatons.
From 1.01.1998 - 12.31.2012, the linear temperature trend was - 0.08 ºC per century (- 0.14 ºF per century). (The temperature trend is negative.) During this period, human CO2 emissions were 440 gigatons. Despite a 33 % increase in CO2 emissions, global warming disappeared (the temperature trend dropped).
Rising Sea Levels
The global warming activists needed something that would garner people's attention. The melting of the polar ice caps and the apocalyptic flooding of the Earth's coastal cities provided the needed catastrophe. It can easily be an emotional issue, but we need some facts.
Are we in danger of coastal flooding from melting ice caps? If the polar ice caps melted, how much would the oceans rise? We will consider three main ice covered areas.
The largest ice covered landmass is Antarctica at the South Pole. Antarctica has 90 % of the world’s ice and 70 % of its fresh water. Antarctica is covered with ice an average of 2,133 meters thick (7,000 feet). If all of the Antarctica ice melted, sea levels would rise around the world about 61 meters (200 feet). Because the average temperature in Antarctica is -37 oC, the ice there is in no danger of melting. In most parts of the continent, it never gets above freezing.
As climatologists worry about the effects of global warming, Antarctica has quietly set a new record for the mass of sea ice. "Antarctica has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole."
There is a significant amount of ice covering Greenland. If all of this ice melted, sea levels would rise about 7 meters (20 feet). Because Greenland is closer to the equator than Antarctica, the temperatures in Greenland are higher.
At the North Pole, the ice is not nearly as thick as the South Pole; the ice floats on the Arctic Ocean. If this ice melted, sea levels would not be affected. The Arctic Icecap contains only 1 to 2 percent of the Earth’s ice, while the elephant, the Antarctic Icecap, contains about 90 percent of the Earth’s ice.
The global warming advocates often point to glaciers that are shrinking in size. What will they do with a glacier that is growing? The glacier is getting larger around K-2, the second highest mountain in the world.
EPA’S POWER GRAB
A 2007 Cap and Trade Bill (Lieberman-Warner Bill) was considered by the U.S. Senate in 2008; it was killed by Senate Republicans on 6.06.08. In 2009, Obama tried to push a different Cap and Trade Bill (Waxman-Markey Bill) through Congress. The House of Representatives barely approved the "Cap and Tax" Bill on 6.26.09 bill, but it was defeated in the U. S. Senate.
The "Cap and Tax" Bill had huge economic consequences. Electricity rates would have increased 90 %; natural gas prices would have gone up 55 %; and gasoline prices would have jumped 58 %. Also, the U.S. would have lost 1 million jobs per year through 2035! [We will experience similar consequences because of the EPA's actions on greenhouse gases.]
When the "Cap and Tax" Bill failed, Obama did not quit; he simply made an end run around Congress. He is using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to accomplish what he cannot do through legislative means.
The unprovoked Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim “December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.” Ironically, on December 7, 2009, the EPA declared that greenhouse gases threaten public health and the environment. It would be an overstatement to say the 2009 date will live in infamy like Pearl Harbor, but the EPA’s action was quite significant!
The EPA stated that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves. EPA’s endangerment finding covers six key greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and hexafluoride.
EPA’s final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that GHGs fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. With the EPA’s new authority under the Clean Air Act, the EPA could regulate almost anything that emits carbon dioxide. Thereby the unelected and unaccountable EPA officials are trying to bypass legislative efforts.
The Heritage Foundation completed an economic analysis of the EPA's plan to regulate CO2. Between 2010 and 2029, the regulations would cause $7 trillion in lost activity and a loss of nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs by 2029!
There are multiple bills in Congress aimed at reining in EPA’s regulatory authority by amending the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from coming under EPA’s purview. It is important to remember that Congress created the Clean Air Act and has the power to alter it. [The work I did with NAPCA from 1968 to 1970 was under the Clean Air Act.] Congress must act now to protect America’s economic interests.
Outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is apparently leaving more quickly after it was discovered that she had clandestine e-mail accounts connected with "climate" and "endangerment."
In 2009, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) produced the report Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. This document played a key role in the December 2009 EPA decision on the "finding of endangerment." According to the 2007 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA must regulate carbon dioxide under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments subsequent to finding that it endangers human health and welfare.
A September 2012 "Addendum" by the Cato Institute seriously questions the accuracy of the USGCRP report and describes important science that is missing from the government report. Cato found that "there is an overwhelming amount of misleading material" in the report.
In simple terms, the EPA based its power grab on "junk science."
Greenhouse gases play a very positive role in regulating the Earth's temperature to produce a habitable planet.
The global average temperature has increased about 1.4 ºF since the early Twentieth Century. The rate of warming is about 0.25 ºF per decade (2.5 ºF per century). Most of this warming is a result of natural causes; temperatures are increasing as we recover from the "Little Ice Age."
There is a very poor correlation between carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere and global warming. Human-caused CO2 emissions have negligible impact on global temperature increases.
The global warming models have performed very poorly in predicting temperature changes. Because the climate models have failed miserably in the past, why would a person expect the models to be accurate in predicting the future climate?
There is no real threat that global warming will melt the polar ice caps, thus causing coastal flooding. Contrary to the hype about melting ice caps, Antarctica (with 90 % of the world's ice) has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole.
The EPA has undertaken a significant power grab by declaring that greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) endanger human health and threaten the environment. If left unchecked, the EPA will be able to regulate most of the U.S. economy -- any energy-using business in the country!
Bio for Henry W. Burke
Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E. He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 40 years.
Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction contractor.
Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.
Henry W. Burke