Were the stakes not so serious, the continuing efforts of global warming apologists to explain every climate condition using their pet theory would be comical. Unfortunately, and despite the death of cap and trade, the climate change crowd has already been very successful in undercutting the use of cheap, plentiful and economically beneficial fossil fuels in the United States. Even worse, the Obama administration will begin to clamp down even harder on the use of fossil fuels in 2011, in the midst of an economic crisis when America can least afford such largesse. In this context, the claim by global warming alarmists that record cold temperatures and massive snowstorms somehow confirm their beliefs demands refutation.
In an op-ed published in The New York Times on December 25, Dr. Judah Cohen, Director of Seasonal Forecasting for Atmospheric and Environmental Research, patiently told readers why all of the unseasonably cold weather that Europe and North America has been experiencing is further proof that mankind is indeed causing global warming. According to Dr. Cohen, global warming is heating up the atmosphere, which means that the atmosphere can hold more water vapor. This in turn means that there is more water that will return to the earth in the form of snow during the winter, particularly in Siberia. More snow cover in Siberia means that more sunlight is reflected off into space, which in turn cools the planet, affects the jet stream and alters weather patterns to create colder temperatures.
Cohen thus takes the position that water vapor is indeed a very important component of the global climate picture, something that skeptics like myself have been saying for years. That’s a position that runs contrary to assertions made by prominent global warming alarmists like NASA climatologists Dr. Andrew Lacis and Dr. Gavin Schmidt. In fact, Lacis, Schmidt and their colleagues recently published a paper that asserted that water vapor in the atmosphere really doesn’t matter at all – only carbon dioxide counts. This is a rather remarkable claim, given that water vapor is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and that the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere dwarfs the amount of carbon dioxide it contains.
Prominent skeptics, like the University of Alabama at Huntsville’s Dr. Roy Spencer, argue that the importance of water vapor is far more significant than that of carbon dioxide and that the global climate system is more or less self correcting. That is, if a small increase in carbon dioxide means that the atmosphere will contain a bit more water vapor, mother nature will deal with the problem by forming more clouds, which help cool the earth. The ultimate issue is about how sensitive the planet is to a slight increase in the concentration of a relatively insignificant greenhouse gas. Alarmists would have us believe that the earth is hyper-sensitive to the slightest change in carbon dioxide concentrations, which pretty much means that we’re doomed whatever we do. Skeptics say that the planet is robust and full of self-correcting mechanisms and that natural cycles are far more important than human activity.
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