A Lot of Hot Air

by Nathan Harden

A new gaping hole has been discovered — not in the ozone layer, but in the assumptions many scientists have employed in the past about how much heat the Earth’s atmosphere retains:

Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.

The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate.

There is no doubt the atmosphere has warmed slightly over the past few decades. The real point of contention is over how much of that warming is due to man-made causes and how much is due to natural, periodic fluctuations in the Earth’s mean temperature. Despite what you might hear, not all scientists are in agreement on the causes or risks of global warming. In one memorable episode a few years ago, a group of dissenting Japanese scientists compared U.N. climate predictions to the prognostications of ancient astrology.

Spencer’s new report offers strong evidence that the doomsday computer models we often read about, which forecast catastrophic warming over the next few decades, may be seriously flawed. The atmosphere appears to be venting far more heat into outer space than Al Gore and his minions led us to believe.

Doomsday computer models may help win academy awards. But when the data turns out to be flimsy, it begins to look like scientists and environmental activists are motivated more by a political agenda than they are by facts.

Responsible environmental policy is important. And, in my opinion, conservatives shouldn’t cede the issue of environmental stewardship to the Left. But if policy recommendations are based on faulty, juiced-up computer models, then it undermines the credibility of those in the scientific community who are pushing for stricter environmental regulations. Let’s see if these new findings make any impact on their claims.

Ultimately, there is no such thing as a flawless global-warming computer model. Perhaps the greatest lesson here is that activists, politicians, and the media should not treat speculative computer models as thought they were gospel truth.