The climate change debate is usually categorized into two sides. One side claims that humans are causing the Earth to warm. The other claims that they are not.
But does the second side have an alternate scientific explanation for why humans are not causing climate change? When they are the extreme minority of scientific opinion, the burden of proof is really on them. So let’s look at the scientific theories of some of the more prominent skeptics.
Dr S. Fred Singer
Dr S. Fred Singer is an atmospheric physicist and a professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia. He is widely known for his opposition to the mainstream opinion regarding climate change, and has a history of being funded by oil companies and conservative think-tanks to promote this skepticism. (He was similarly funded for his opposition to the theory of tobacco causing cancer, as well as the theory of CFCs depleting ozone.)
Dr Singer claims that the observed warming is a natural phenomenon that occurs every 1500 years. He uses data from the Greenland ice core to support this theory. The data illustrates repeating D-O events, a well-known phenomenon from the last ice age, in which ocean currents caused the Greenland ice cap to warm while the Antarctic ice cap cooled. There was no change in the energy balance of the Earth, and little, if any, change in average global temperatures. Peter Sinclair created a fantastic video about Dr Singer’s D-O theory which you should all check out here
With the training and knowledge he has, you’d hope Dr Singer would know to always use data from both poles when addressing issues of paleoclimatology. But, given his track record, there’s a good chance he’s deliberately trying to deceive us.
Dr Richard Lindzen
Dr Richard Lindzen is an atmospheric physicist and professor of meteorology at MIT. He was one of the many lead authors of the third IPCC report. His scientific work seems to follow the mainstream opinion……but he seems like a skeptic in the media. He is just as prominent as Dr Singer – between the two of them they’ve probably written most of the skeptical newspaper editorials out there. Like Dr Singer, Dr Lindzen is known to have been paid by the oil industry to promote his views on climate change.
But what are those views? It’s hard to know. Given his publications and participation in IPCC, it seems like he agrees with the basic physical processes of climate change. In an interview with Canadian climatologist Andrew Weaver, he seemed to acknowledge that humans were changing the climate, but didn’t think the consequences would be too bad. But he also likes to claim that there is little agreement or confidence, regarding anthropogenic climate change, in the scientific community. He told the Boston News that the Greenland ice sheet was thickening, indicating cooling – while it is well known that the thickening is due to an increase in snow from warmer temperatures. He’s also claimed that climatologists made up global warming so they would get more grant money.
Richard Lindzen says so many different things – it’s hard to tell whether or not he has a consistent opinion. Again, in scientific circles, he’s working just fine with the mainstream opinion. But then he goes to the media and spews out all the contrary arguments he can think of. My best guess is that Dr Lindzen is trying to confuse the public on climate change, because he doesn’t want action to be taken. But who knows?
Anthony Watts is a weather forecaster, but now spends most of his time running the websites Watt’s Up With That?
and Surface Stations
. He believes that temperature data stations are producing flawed data, showing a false warming trend. He spends a lot of time trying to explain how observed signs of warming, such as melting ice sheets, are irrelevant.
However, we could forget the temperature data altogether, throwing out all the GISS graphs of temperature changes. We could instead look at changes in the timing of physical and biological events, such as when birds migrate, when snow melts, or when flowers bloom. NASA recently conducted such a study
, and found that 90% of the 29,500 data sets studied indicated warming temperatures.
These are three of the most prominent skeptics who are actually qualified to understand climate change. If this small community – perhaps no more than a few dozen scientists worldwide – had a consistent scientific theory to explain why humans are not causing climate change, perhaps we’d pay more attention to them.
But they’re all saying different things. Their ideas are all over the map. I don’t think I’ve even seen two skeptics who share the same theory.
They’re working as hard as they can to disprove climate change, but they can’t even agree on an alternate explanation.