John R. Christy, PhD
Alabama State Climatologist
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
1 August 2012
One Page Summary
1. It is popular again to claim that extreme events, such as the current central U.S.
drought, are evidence of human-caused climate change. Actually, the Earth is very large,
the weather is very dynamic, and extreme events will continue to occur somewhere,
every year, naturally. The recent “extremes” were exceeded in previous decades.
2. The average warming rate of 34 CMIP5 IPCC models is greater than observations,
suggesting models are too sensitive to CO2. Policy based on observations, where year-to-year variations cause the most harm, will likely be far more effective than policies based on speculative model output, no matter what the future climate does.
3. New discoveries explain part of the warming found in traditional surface temperature
datasets. This partial warming is unrelated to the accumulation of heat due to the extra
greenhouse gases, but related to human development around the thermometer stations.
This means traditional surface datasets are limited as proxies for greenhouse warming.
4. Widely publicized consensus reports by “thousands” of scientists are misrepresentative
of climate science, containing overstated confidence in their assertions of high climate
sensitivity. They rarely represent the range of scientific opinion that attends our
relatively murky field of climate research. Funding resources are recommended for “Red
Teams” of credentialed, independent investigators, who already study low climate
sensitivity and the role of natural variability. Policymakers need to be aware of the full
range of scientific views, especially when it appears that one-sided-science is the basis
for promoting significant increases to the cost of energy for the citizens.
5. Atmospheric CO2 is food for plants which means it is food for people and animals.
More CO2 generally means more food for all. Today, affordable carbon-based energy is
a key component for lifting people out of crippling poverty. Rising CO2 emissions are,
therefore, one indication of poverty-reduction which gives hope for those now living in a
marginal existence without basic needs brought by electrification, transportation and
industry. Additionally, modern, carbon-based energy reduces the need for deforestation
and alleviates other environmental problems such as water and air pollution. Until
affordable energy is developed from non-carbon sources, the world will continue to use
carbon as the main energy source as it does today.