News Flash: Astronaut Solves the Climate Problem

by Bill Chameides | February 16th, 2009
posted by Erica Rowell (Editor)

Permalink | 16 comments

Going to the moon doesn’t not a climate expert make. (NASA)

Since the later days of the 19th century, scientists have been pondering the warming effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the climate. So you can imagine my surprise to read yesterday that the entire scientific community has been scooped by former U.S. senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM), also an astronaut who walked on the moon. Schmitt has at last uncovered the truth: there is no climate problem.

Harrison Schmitt has decided he is not going take it anymore. He resigned from the Planetary Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to the advancement of space exploration, because it concluded along with the vast majority of the scientific community that the globe is warming because of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants like CO2.

Interestingly, the Planetary Society is not alone in its position. Other groups reaching similar conclusions of human-caused warming include:

Against the weight of all these scientific experts stands Harrison Schmitt.

They say the globe is warming because of human activities and he says it is not.  Where did he get his superior scientific insight? Was it from his stroll on the moon – after all that’s pretty lofty stuff. Or maybe it was gained during his years serving in the Senate, a body renowned for its scientific and technical expertise.

Schmitt is apparently concerned that scientists are being intimidated and are losing “grant funding when they haven’t gone along with the so-called political consensus that we’re in a human-caused global warming.”

This is all news to me. While I agree that there is a scientific consensus, I had not realized until I heard it from Schmitt that there was also a “political consensus.” Strange since one would have thought that if there were a political consensus we would already have had climate legislation in the United States. Could it be that the Senate has some kind of arcane rules that prevents it from passing legislation even if there is a consensus? Perhaps the former senator from New Mexico could fill us in on that.

I was also surprised to hear that scientists were losing their grants for not going along with the idea that humans were causing global warming. Stop me if I am wrong, but didn’t we just go through eight years of an administration that denied that or questioned how much of global warming was caused by humans and did its best to obfuscate and bury evidence to the contrary? I would have thought that under those circumstances scientists who accepted that humans are causing global warming were more likely to lose funding. Here again I am dazzled by Schmitt’s superior understanding and insight.

But there’s more. In addition to shooting down global warming science, the former astronaut has toppled major scientific theories that have nothing to do with the climate.

For example, as reported by the AP, Schmitt has apparently figured out that CO2 concentrations are increasing because the temperature is increasing. That’s a really amazing scientific breakthrough. You see, the conclusion that the atmospheric CO2 increase is due to burning fossil fuels is based on isotopic data, which in turn is based on fundamental atomic and nuclear theory. So Schmitt’s conclusion overturns not only global warming science but all of atomic and nuclear theory.

Who knows where this may lead – could it turn out that there really is no such thing as a nuclear bomb? If so, I would be the first to nominate Schmitt for the Nobel Peace Prize. What greater contribution could there be to peace than removing the threat of nuclear war? And how very fitting for him to get the prize right on the heels of Al Gore.  

What a great country this is, where we have folks like former astronaut Harrison Schmitt. He can walk on the moon, he can go to the Senate, and then he can (try to) undo decades of scientific research just by saying it isn’t so.

filed under: carbon dioxide emissions, climate change, faculty, global warming
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  1. Richard Treptow
    Apr 10, 2009

    What a terribly biased article. Harrison Schmitt first is a scientist, a geologist, which is the basis for his comments. His walk on the moon is not related to his issue. He is not alone. At least 650 PhD level scientists have gone on record and agree that there is not good science to prove that global warming is caused by humans.

    • Bill Chameides
      Apr 10, 2009

      Richard: Check out those 650 Ph.D.’s before you sing their praises. And by the way, taking 1 minute to sign a petition is a lot easier than devoting months of your life to carefully reviewing the scientific literature and working with a diverse spectrum of colleagues on a detailed assessment.

      • Douglas Chang
        Sep 8, 2009

        Bill, John Christy, to name of those 650 Ph.D’s, doesn’t agree with you. And Christy, as you well know, hasn’t simply signed a petition or read a few agenda driven studies. He’s done a good deal of the climate research that assorted Ph.D’s in fields like literature, sociology, history and other assorted non-climate (and often non-science or “soft” science related) disciplines haven’t bothered to read before offering their “expert” opinions on man’s role in global warming, er, “climate change.” Dr. Ian Plimer and Dr. Robert M. Carter are another two of the many knowledgeable research scientists who disagree with you and agree with Christy. Attempting to demean or minimize the work and credentials of very respected scientists that don’t share your view on the current state of the globe’s climate, nor the impact that productive human activity has or doesn’t have on it, not only lends no weight to your case, but it detracts from your position fairly significantly.

        • Bill Chameides
          Sep 9, 2009

          Douglas, They’ve got it wrong. My question is: why are you prepared to believe them over organizations like the U.S. National Academy of Sciences?

          • Douglas Chang
            Sep 9, 2009

            Bill, Let me answer your question with a few of my own. How many members of the National Academy of Sciences are familiar with the ocean warming impact of warm phases of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation? How many NAS members have reviewed the data from recent ice core sample studies? How many NAS members are familiar with the findings of the Max Planck Institute’s 2003 research expedition to the Arctic? How many NAS members know that the globe’s climate has been cooling for nearly a decade now (while atmospheric CO2 has been rising)? A telling exemplar story for you – In the last century there was a long-held scientific consensus that stomach ulcers were the result of excess stomach acid. Two lone Australian research scientists found no support for that consensually held view in any of the studies that they reviewed (studies that found reducing stomach acid didn’t relieve ulcers). They posited a novel theory, that ulcers were not the result of an overly acidic stomach condition, but were instead the result of an infection (re. were bacterially induced or produced). These two lone researchers were ridiculed for years by the larger medical (and scientific) community for positing what the scientific community regarded as a most “loony” theory (the same, by the fairly important and telling way, is true for the researchers who initially posited a viral cause for at least some cancers). As you know, the “faith-based” consensus of the larger medical and scientific community was ultimately proven wrong by the skepticism and diligence of those two lone Australian research scientists. Scientific truths aren’t established by consensus, Bill.

            • Bill Chameides
              Sep 10, 2009

              Douglas, answer to your question: all of the climate scientists and geoscientists in the academy including myself. And for you, beware the ignoratio elenchi.

              • Douglas Chang
                Sep 10, 2009

                You prefer a more direct answer, fine. I give not much weight to the consensus opinion of the NAS for a couple of reasons. First, the consensus opinion of the NAS does not comport well with the climate data and facts… at least as I read and understand that data and those facts. You disagree with my reading and analysis, that I understand. Second, I am not alone in my different reading and understanding. The NAS, as you know, is not without members who differ with your reading and understanding. Dyson, Lindzen and Allegre, to name just three, and for example, do not share or agree with the NAS’ consensus view. The US Supreme Court often issues a divided opinion (re. issues majority and majority opinions or views). As you know, sometimes, and over time, the minority view not infrequently becomes the majority opinion. Wisdom, information and understanding often changes and grows over time. While I and others are of the minority opinion today, does that make us wrong, and will that always be the case? Time will tell, Bill. Does that sufficiently answer your question and address your foreign (ignoratio elenchi) concern?

          • Douglas Chang
            Sep 9, 2009

            Bill, If you phoned ten members of the NAS, members from assorted and randomly selected scientific fields, and you asked them a simple question of scientific and climate-related fact, how many of them would know the answer to that question, and how many would only be able to offer you a correct or incorrect guess? How about conducting a little experiment on the climate-related knowledge base of NAS members? How about phoning ten randomly selected members (putting them slightly on the non-cheat-sheet spot) and asking them the following fairly simple question of scientific and climate-related fact: At the present time is global sea ice coverage – 1. Above the long-term average 2. At or near the long-term average 3. Below the long-term average The correct answer is, of course, that present global sea ice coverage is approximately 400,000 square kilometers above the long-term average (with the current surplus in the Antarctic being greater than the deficit in the Arctic). After conducting this little experiment, please let me know how many of those ten randomly selected NAS’ biologists, physicists, chemists, and other NAS scientists knew the answer to that pretty simple (yet rather relevant, important and revealing) climate-related question, and how many were only able to offer you a guess as to what the correct answer might be. I’m betting that there will be a lot of guessers. You, I presume, would strongly disagree.

            • Bill Chameides
              Sep 10, 2009

              Douglas, How many experts on climate think that a trend of a few years constitutes a long-term climatic trend?

              • Douglas Chang
                Sep 10, 2009

                Bill, Prior to the recent and near decade long cooling trend, a number of advocates of human-induced global warming suggested that ten years was sufficient to note a climate trend. Interestingly (assuming my memory serves me correctly), it was a trend line of similar length that had a number of people predicting an imminent ice age back in the 1970’s. Were the individuals predicting that imminent ice age back in the 1970’s climate scientists? For the most part, they were not. Are those currently predicting the runaway heating of the planet due to productive human activity climate scientists in the main? No, they’re not. To answer your question more specifically, I prefer to look to the data derived from Antarctic ice core studies, data that provide a picture of the globe’s climate trend line over 650,000 years, when attempting to picture any current global climate trend. When I do that, I see nothing at all alarming, worrisome or concerning in the present global climate trend line. By the way, how did those NAS scientists do in your little phone survey?

  2. Michael
    Feb 16, 2009

    It is easier to criticize the “mass culture” of science than to criticize the science. o it’s a bait and switch because it makes a scientific claim by making a cultural claim – ‘global warming does not exist because scientific community don’t challenge the status quo.’ Another interesting aspect is that the argument depicts anti-environmentalists, supporters of big pollution, and views that refuse to engage with science as if these positions are independent, heroic, and honest. This strategy was developed by PR firms hired by the major polluters, outlined in “War Against the Greens.” And didn’t John Grisham have a book about this, too? It’s as if the environmental activist is just a dupe of the machine, while the people who say that everything is fine are the real rebels. In the end it doesn’t really matter who are the rebels and who are mainstream. Stopping global warming is what matters.

    • Marian
      Feb 17, 2009

      Stopping pollution is what matters. Increasing our energy efficiency to conserve resources matters. Protecting the quality of our waters matters. Maybe global warming is a big wake-up call. If it is, good for the people who cry wolf because the wolf always shows up eventually.

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