Once again Vermont’s political class is pushing the spectre of global warming, now referred to as “climate change”, as a threat that Vermont needs to lead the way in combating. The last big push came in 2007 when dissenting views from the notion that human activity was the primary factor driving climate change were not allowed into the discussion at the State House. In an effort to balance the debate, a small group of Vermonters invited Dr. Fred Singer to come and speak at UVM. Dr. Singer was a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. He’s also an atmospheric physicist and founder of the Science and Environmental Policy Project. While acknowledging that climate change is a reality, he is not convinced that the evidence points to human activity as the cause.
Climate change activists are at it again and the discussion in Montpelier does not seem to be any more balanced than the one in 2007 was. The recent discussion on the subject was covered in this article by the Vermont Press Bureau:
The famed climate change expert has been invited by Shap Smith to address the full Legisalture. According to the release:
“Speaker of the House Shap Smith invites Environmental Activist Bill McKibben to speak to Legislature about Climate Change”
Speaker of the House Shap Smith has invited renowned author, environmentalist, and activist Bill McKibben to the State House on January 30th to address climate change as it relates to Vermont and upcoming legislation.
Bill McKibben is known nationally to be an advocate for action in response to the changing environment. He has written a dozen books about the environment and is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org. The Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was “probably the country’s most important environmentalist.” He currently serves as a Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College.
McKibben’s reputation as an activist in this field is a matter of record, but his background hardly appears to exhibit expertise in any hard science. In fact, according to his profile in Wikipedia, his academic degree is actually in Journalism:
McKibben grew up in suburban Lexington, Massachusetts, where he attended Lexington High School. As an undergraduate at Harvard University, he was president of The Harvard Crimson newspaper. Immediately after graduating with a degree in journalism he joined The New Yorker as a staff writer and wrote much of the Talk of the Town column from 1982 to early 1987.
Again, McKibben’s credentials as a political activist are beyond dispute, but his expertise in the hard sciences is questionable. If our political leaders in Montpelier want someone with expertise in the hard sciences to testify on this issue, they may want to try Middlebury’s James Peden. Mr. Peden is the Editor of The Middlebury Vermont Community Network and is a retired Atmospheric Physicist. The controversy over global warming caught his eye in 2008 and he decided to investigte it:
I, too became suspicious of the Global Warming Hype several months ago, and having a background in Atmospheric Physics (long retired), I undertook a personal study spanning many weeks of primarily Internet research – including much valuable data and analysis from contributors to ICECAP. (many thanks)
As the editor of a regional community internet network (www.middlebury.net), I summarized my findings in an editorial specifically designed to be read and hopefully understood by the non-rocket-scientist, including, when necessary, short breaks of teaching some elementary physics as I went along so regular folks could follow the story without choking on 2nd order partial differential equations.
He actually did some mathematical modeling to determine if the known amount of human generated CO2 in our atmosphere could possibly account for the observed climate change:
There’s a philosophical principle called Occam’s Razor, which essentially says one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything. While the whole world argues over melting ice caps, drowning polar bears, droughts and floods and other complex catastrophes, I simply asked myself, “What is the maximum amount of the earth’s agreed-upon Black Body radiation that the atmosphere’s agreed-upon amount of CO2 is capable of absorbing?
My very simple calculations, using generally acceptable CO2 absorption and Black Body radiation spectra, yielded a result that seemed to indicate that CO2 wasn’t much of a player in the so-called Greenhouse Effect. So, you can argue all day about polar bears and such, but in the end, whatever you decide has to obey the fundamental laws of physics.
Yes, the planet may be warming, or cooling, or whatever… but man isn’t to blame and man can’t stop what Mother Earth (and the Sun) are planning for the future.
It’s really as simple as that. And it looks like most regular folks prefer a simple explanation, particularly if it is wholly in agreement with what we think of as the fundamental laws of physics. That’s probably why the essay spread around the globe so fast… regular folks could understand it.
The sad part is, the Global Warming Fanatics will undoubtedly continue their desperate fight to force us all to fall into lockstep with their radical, paranoid environmental agendas. Even sadder is the recent study that 95% of the younger children now fear for the future of their lives, and the planet. None dare call it terrorism…
Leave it to Vermont’s political leadership to invite a journalist and political activist to speak on this subject, rather than someone who actually has a background in Atmospheric Physics.