How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

Click to locate material archived on our website by topic

"Human Contribution to Climate Change Remains Questionable"
Volume 2, Number 10: 15 May 1999

With these well chosen words as his title, Dr. S. Fred Singer begins an informative and eye-opening Forum article in the 20 April 1999 issue of EOS, the "Transactions" organ of the American Geophysical Union based in Washington, DC.  In a clearly written and carefully documented review of what is currently known about the subject of carbon dioxide and global warming, he methodically demonstrates the many shortcomings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1996 claim that "the balance of evidence suggests there is a discernible human influence on global climate."

Singer begins his essay by noting that earth's climate is always changing, on one timescale or another, and that many past changes, clearly unforced by atmospheric carbon dioxide variations, have been both larger and more rapid than what is currently being predicted by climate models that warn of impending disaster fueled by the ever-increasing greenhouse effect of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  He then describes the uncertainties inherent in predicting future carbon dioxide emission trends, the uncertainties associated with predicting the climatic effects of sulfate and other aerosols, the uncertainties that surround various measurements of temperature over the past century or so, the uncertainties involved in a host of climate model parameterizations, the uncertainties associated with a number of presumed consequences of climate change, and the uncertainties attached to the economic implications of these climate-related phenomena.  And then he reminds us, with respect to this issue, that in spite of all these uncertainties, "high government officials have declared repeatedly that [the] climate science is 'settled' and 'compelling'."

So what else is new?  Isn't that about what one would expect from an administration that has invested so much time, money and effort in building a global bureaucracy so dedicated to saving us from ourselves that its momentum cannot be stopped, even when the concept that launched the effort has been demonstrated to be dubious?  Indeed, as ever more studies cast serious doubts on the simplistic notions that served as the basis for the Kyoto Protocol, people everywhere are beginning to question the integrity of the process that has succeeded in putting the regulatory cart before the scientific horse that in all normal circumstances would be pulling it.

Perhaps these observations are symptomatic of a sea change in the way the world is run.  Government used to tell us what is best for us, which was bad enough.  Now it also tells us what is best for the earth, turning a deaf ear to the scientific controversy that rages over the merits of its plans to recast the planet's atmosphere in a compositional mode more akin to the image of computer simulations.

Are higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 bad for the planet?  Does more carbon dioxide in the air really enhance earth's greenhouse effect?  Will the engines of industry lead to dangerous global warming?  Anyone who regularly peruses our web site knows that these propositions and many of their corollaries are challenged almost daily, as science marches on.

But the bureaucracy also marches on.  It has the truth.  It says so.  And in the century-old words of Hilaire Belloc,

"scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that this must be so.
Oh! Let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!"

Dr. Craig D. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso
Vice President