Global warming – is it a hoax?

girl thinking- iStockEver since I posted articles on the topic of greenhouse gas, I have been receiving some pretty interesting emails. I have responded to some here and I have also deleted some because they were more like rants than comments.

 One reader who used a manual typewriter and mailed in his letter (rant) to my editor at Pollution Engineering claimed that global warming is all but a hoax perpetuated by Al Gore and the liberals. Another said that the Supreme Court was made up of a “bunch of stupid lawyers” and that the scientists at EPA sold out to their political masters. I can go on but I won’t.

Here is the real scoop as I can best figure out. 

Several years ago, a number of states filed a lawsuit against the Bush EPA for failing to regulate CO2 emissions from cars. The Bush EPA’s position was that it did not have the authority to regulate CO2 under the Clean Air Act. The Appellate Court in Washington DC sided with EPA. The states appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

The landmark Supreme Court case (Massachusetts et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency et al. No. 05–1120) was decided on April 2, 2007.

Here is what the court said:

CO2 is an air pollutant under the Clean Air Act because §7602(g) of the Act defines “air pollutant” as “any air pollution agent or combination of such agents, including any physical, chemical . . . substance or matter which is emitted into or otherwise enters the ambient air . . . .”  The Court told EPA that since CO2 is a pollutant, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to regulate it IF it finds that CO2 impacts “public health and welfare”.

The Court reminded the Bush EPA that the purpose of the Clean Air Act as mandated by Congress is to “protect and enhance the quality of Nation’s air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population.” The law further defines the term “effects on welfare” to include “effects on soils, water, crops, vegetation, man-made materials, animals, wildlife, weather, visibility, and climate…..”

So EPA’s responsibility and obligation under the Act are quite clear.

For those inclined on conspiracies who claim that the Clean Air Act, the Supreme Court and EPA are part of a liberal conspiracy to dream up climate change as a hoax on humanity, I only need to remind them that the Clean Air Act was signed into law in 1990 by a Republican President – George H.W. Bush. He could have vetoed it but he didn’t. Majority of the justices on the Supreme Court that ruled on this case were appointed by Republican presidents. Even the Bush EPA admitted that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It just didn’t want to regulate it.

So what is now before the EPA is very simple. If it finds that CO2 endangers “public health and welfare”, it has no choice but to regulate it. It is the law of the land as demanded by the Clean Air Act and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court.

By the way – for those of you who may be impressed by pedigree: The U.S. National Academy of Science believes in global warming too! It is asking for quicker response to deal with the problem. Perhaps it is part of the conspiracy too?

I seriously doubt it.

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2 responses to “Global warming – is it a hoax?

  1. Historian of science, Naomi Oreskes of UC San Diego, states “Scientific knowledge is the intellectual and social consensus of affiliated experts based on the weight of available empirical evidence, and evaluated according to accepted methodologies.  If we feel that a policy question deserves to be informed by scientific knowledge, then we have no choice but to ask, what is the consensus of experts on this matter.” 

    Climate change has been extensively researched and the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that the observed modern day global warming is unprecedented and is very likely caused by humans. Although there is little serious debate between climate experts, many in the general public still think that these scientists are unsure about climate change and the role that humans have played in modern day global warming.  The Website above summarizes some of the key research that has led scientists to their overwhelming consensus while also addressing some of the unfounded claims by climate change skeptics and denialists.

    The only plausible explanation is that today’s warming is primarily due to human activities.  The increase in greenhouse emissions can easily account for this warming.  There is robust evidence for the man-made global warming.  There are no other known sources of warming that can explain the observed modern climate change.  People that claim there is no warming or that the warming is not caused by humans have offered no credible alternate hypotheses.  Yes, these folks make claims but none of the claims has stood up to scientific scrutiny. Because I see/hear much disinformation from well-intentioned folks, I feel it is my duty to try to educate people on this very important matter. Unfortunately, it is an uphill battle because most of the real science is discussed in hard-to-read scientific journals and most of the bad science is easily accessible on Web pages, blogs, and other forms of mass media.  Worse, there are political organizations such as The Heartland Institute that present themselves as scientific organizations but these organizations are directly and indirectly funded by the fossil fuel industry and others that stand to lose if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

  2. scott..thank you for your comments. Very well put and right on point. You are right – there are many people propagating mis-information out there. To be fair – many large companies – including power plants – are supporting the cap-and-trade development process because they would rather take part in its formulation than be left out in the cold.

    Norman

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