Global warming debate 'irrational': scientists

Stephanie Stein
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Thursday, April 26, 2007 

The current debate about global warming is "completely irrational," and people need to start taking a different approach, say two Ottawa scientists.

Carleton University science professor Tim Patterson said global warming will not bring about the downfall of life on the planet.

Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said.

"I think the proof in the pudding, based on what (media and governments) are saying, (is) we're about three quarters of the way (to disaster) with the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere," said Patterson. "The world should be heating up like crazy by now, and it's not. The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles."

Patterson explained CO2 is not a pollutant, but an essential plant food.


Billions of taxpayers' dollars are spent to control the emissions of this benign gas, in the mistaken belief that they can stop climate change, he said.

"The only constant about climate is change," said Patterson.

Patterson said money could be better spent on places like Africa.

"All the money wasted on Kyoto in a year could provide clean drinking water for Africa," said Patterson. "We're into a new era of science with the discussion of solar forces. Eventually, Kyoto is going to fall by the wayside. In the meantime, I'm worried we're going to spend millions that could have been spent on something better like air pollution."

Tom Harris, executive director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project - an organization that attempts to debunk some of the popular beliefs about climate change - supported Patterson's findings.

Global warming assertions are based on inconclusive evidence put forth in science reports that had not been published yet, he said.

"The media takes (inconclusive) information that only suggests there could be a climate problem and turns it into an environmental catastrophe," said Harris.

"They continually say we only have 10 years left, and they've been saying it for 20 years, and it's ridiculous," he said. "The only reason I got involved in talking to media is that I think our resources are being mismanaged.

"Go after something real and tangible like air pollution."

After hearing a second scientist say climate change is part of a natural cycle, Elaine Kennedy - a local environmental activist - is interested in investigating the issue further.

She looks forward to examining scientific reports that will be published in a couple of months by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"The problem may not be climate change, but the problem is still pollution," said Kennedy.

She's not alone in her assertion global warming is a pollution problem.

David Phillips, a senior government environment expert, believes there is more than one contributing factor to global warming. There's a human element, as well as natural cycles.

Difficult to convince

"I'm a man that's difficult to convince," he said. "What convinces me is the large body of evidence, and highly reputable people promoting global warming, who are not lobbyists, but only seeking truth in science. They say the the earth is warming up faster and greater now than in the past."

People who are contradicting the global warming reality, Phillip thinks, have their own motives for doing so.

"These skeptics are keeping the debate alive (for their own interests). They try to confuse people into inaction," said Phillips.

Phillips believes global warming is solvable.

"We solved the ozone and acid rain problem. With effort, and a new way of doing things we could solve this one too," said Phillips.

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