Michael Zimmer: Ground climate change debate in facts

Some news reports from around the world, and some columns from various sources have caught my eye recently on the subject of climate change, or global warming if one prefers that term.

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that the United States Supreme Court had ruled in a case which "mostly validated the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate power plant and factor emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming."

The high court indicated the EPA was not allowed to rewrite specific standards set by law, but agreed with the administration that there was another way for the EPA to implement its program. Why do I get the feeling that we will be seeing higher electric bills as one result of these regulations?

Meanwhile, in the land down under, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reintroduced legislation to his parliament to repeal that country's carbon tax. This report can be found on The Economic Times website.

"The opposition center-left Labor Party and minor Greens Party used their Senate majority in March to block the bills to remove the tax," the article notes. New senators will be seated in July, which should allow for the repeal bills to pass by a narrow margin.

Abbott claimed a mandate for dumping the tax since voters had embraced his party's election. I would not mind a visit by Abbott to our nation to speak on how his approach has the potential to benefit job creation and economic growth.

A recent U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing had some interesting exchanges as reported by Conservative News Service June 24 on cnsnews.com.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, asked four former EPA administrators appointed by Republican presidents some questions about global warming. The panel of witnesses was there to offer testimony in favor of the EPA's proposed power plan regulations.

Sessions noted that "The president on November 14, 2012 said, 'The temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago.'" Sessions asked the former administrators if they agreed with the accuracy of the president's statements on temperature increases. All four declined to agree with the president.

A column that drew my attention was from Christopher Booker writing for the London Telegraph June 21.

He suggested that future generations may well have trouble understanding "how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming."

Booker expressed amazement at the part "played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data."

He cited as "another damning example" the information uncovered by Steven Goddard's science blog.

Goddard purports to reveal "adjustments" to the temperature records of U.S. surface temperatures by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Goddard believes NOAA has substituted actual temperature data with "data fabricated by computer models."

Goddard compared currently published temperature graphs with those based on temperatures measured at that time. The results seem to indicate a downgrade of earlier temperatures and exaggeration of more recent decades.

Booker concludes that global warming notions should not be looked on as science, "but as simply a rather alarming case study in the aberration of group psychology."

The debate over climate change is not going to end any time soon. Let's hope that debate can be grounded in facts rather than heated rhetoric.

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