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CO2-Induced Global Warming: Fissures in Its Theoretical Foundation
Volume 3, Number 36: 20 December 2000

In a revealing scientific paper recently published in Nature, Veizer et al. (2000) present what could well be described as the beginning of the end for the theory of CO2-induced global warming. This work is extremely important, since the CO2-climate theory serves as the one-and-only scientific justification for the Kyoto Protocol, and its demise would sweep away the intellectual basis that serves as the foundation of that infamous document and the myriad economic regulations that would be required as a consequence of its ratification by the U.S. Senate. Hence, it is crucial that the results of the new study are clearly understood and its implications widely disseminated.

Veizer and his colleagues began their seminal work by developing a new reconstruction of tropical sea surface temperatures throughout the Phanerozoic era, which covers a little over half of the past one billion years of earth's history. This climate reconstruction - which was derived from a large collection of oxygen isotope (delta18O) data obtained from the calcite and aragonite shells of tropical marine fossils - was found to be well correlated with climate variations inferred from other indicators of past climate; and it thus allowed the researchers to fill in many gaps that had existed in the older climate data. When the new temperature history was compared with temperatures derived from a climate model driven by atmospheric CO2 concentrations obtained from proxy indicators of carbon dioxide, however, some major problems arose.

In the words of the researchers, "the simulations based on [the] climate model yield[ed] temperatures that are in serious disagreement with the delta18O-scaled tropical temperatures." During two particular icehouse times (the Ordovician/Silurian and Jurassic/Cretaceous epochs), in fact, the CO2-driven climate model over-predicted the reconstructed temperatures by as much as 7C, which is akin to predicting a warm interglacial when the planet is actually in the grip of a full-fledged ice age!

Clearly, something is rotten somewhere; and the researchers therefore provide three options from which we can pick the garbage of our choice. They suggest, as one possibility, that the role of CO2 as a primary driver of global climate change is "questionable," which seems an incredibly weak word to use in this context, as the predicted temperatures could hardly have been more wrong. Second, they say that the climate model they used was "calibrated to the present, and may thus be unable to reproduce correctly the past climate," which suggests to us that it may also be unable to correctly predict the future. Third, Veizer et al. opine that "reconstructed past CO2 levels are (partially) incorrect;" but if this is so, a vast body of widely accepted scientific work goes down the drain, which casts doubt on something that has been even more accepted than the CO2-climate theory, which therefore puts the latter concept in doubt as well.

Attention, climate alarmists. Anyway you look at it, you lose.

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

Veizer, J., Godderis, Y. and Francois, L.M. 2000. Evidence for decoupling of atmospheric CO2 and global climate during the Phanerozoic eon. Nature 408: 698-701.