To the editors:
Harold Henderson ("Environment: The Warming Debate," July 31) is correct that regarding global warming, "most of what we hear is hot air." Indeed. The evidence that is available indicates that not only is the sky not falling but that the only global warming that is occurring is from the hot air environmentalists often generate.
A recent issue of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's presitigious Technology Review reports on the culmination of an exhaustive study of worldwide ocean temperatures since 1850 by MIT climatologists Reginald Newell, Jane Hsiung, and Wu Zhongxiang. Its most striking conclusion: "There appears to have been little or no global warming over the past century."
In fact, the net rise in world surface temperature during the last century is about one degree Fahrenheit, nearly all occurring before 1940. This increase was followed by a 35-year-long temperature decrease between 1940 and 1975, which led to concern about an approaching ice age.
In fact, the average ocean temperature in the torrid 1980s was less than 0.2 degrees Celsius higher than the 1860s average and virtually the same as it was in the 1940s. Since the oceans cover 70 percent of the earth's surface and since two-thirds of the buildup of CO2 has taken place since 1940, the MIT data invalidates all current global warming forecasts.
Recently former NASA chief Dr. Robert Jastrow joined two other top scientists, William Nierenberg, former director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Fredrick Seitz, past president of the National Academy of Sciences, in a scathing rebuke to premature announcements of global warming.
Dr. Jastrow noted that from 1940 to the 1970s, while greenhouse gasses continued to build up in the atmosphere, the observed temperatures decreased substantially. He states: "This fall in temperature is particularly difficult to explain as a greenhouse phenomenon, because this period was one of . . . increasing emission of greenhouse gasses and should have been a period of accelerating temperature rise." But it wasn't.
Urban-adjusted temperature data, developed by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration for the 48 contiguous U.S. states, shows no warming trend since 1895, with similar trends now developing for urban-adjusted European and Canadian data.
When the doomsayers' atmospheric models cannot even accurately predict the past, we know they are useless as a forecaster. Perhaps it is because they are too simplistic, relying only on the levels of carbon dioxide. But rising temperatures produce clouds, which cool the earth. Sulfur dioxide from smokestacks also has a cooling effect.
As Patrick Michaels, professor of environmental science at the University of Virginia, explains: "Perturb the climate with carbon dioxide alone, you get global warming. Perturb it with sulfur dioxide alone, and you get an ice age." Put them together and you have self-canceling effects.
So, depending on which crisis-of-the-month you prefer, we are facing either a boiling or frozen future. I would suggest we rely on more than science-by-press-release before we spend a trillion dollars over the next 20 years destroying what's left of the American economy in an unnecessary attempt to repeal the Industrial Revolution.
Daniel John Sobieski