Prof. William Gray: Global Warming Real, Not Caused by Man
For those of you who don’t know Prof. William Gray is one of the top scientists when it comes to hurricanes and tropical weather. Now he has offered what will undoubtedly be a controversial view of global warming/climate change.
Global warming is happening, but humans are not the cause, one of the nation’s top experts on hurricanes said Monday morning.
Bill Gray, who has studied tropical meteorology for more than 40 years, spoke at the Larimer County Republican Club Breakfast about global warming and whether humans are to blame. About 50 people were at the talk.
Gray, who is a professor at Colorado State University, said human-induced global warming is a fear perpetuated by the media and scientists who are trying to get federal grants.
“I think we’re coming out of the little ice age, and warming is due to changes to ocean circulation patterns due to salinity variations,” Gray said. “I’m sure that’s it.”
Gray’s view has been challenged, however.
The consensus view is just the opposite, that there was no little ice age and that the cause for the increase in global temperatures is human activities.
Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said in an interview later Monday that climate scientists involved with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that most of the warming is due to human activity.
“Bill Gray is a widely respected senior scientist who has a view that is out of step with a lot of his colleagues’,” Pielke said. But challenging widely held views is “good for science because it forces people to make their case and advances understanding.”
“We should always listen to the minority,” said Pielke, who spoke from his office in Boulder. “But it’s prudent to take actions that both minimize human effect on the climate and also make ourselves much more resilient.”
This does raise an interesting point, at least for discussion. If the warming is not related to human activities then how much mitigation can we get by curtailing human activities. The intuitive answer seems to be little or no mitigation. Of course, the intuitive answer isn’t necessarily right.
But even if humans cause global warming, there’s not much people can do, Gray said. China and India will continue to pump out greenhouse gases, and alternative energy sources are expensive.
This is indeed a potentially serious flaw to any plan to mitigate global warming that isn’t both global and binding. If the say the U.S. reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but India and China take up the slack and then some, then there will be little to no mitigation save that things wont be heating up quite so fast. Further, it is also possible that mitigation in one country induces increased emissions in another as firms try to minimize costs and look at relocating their operations. I would expect that the increase would be less than the decrease, but the point is that mitigation needs to be global in nature and well thought out.
But Pielke said it makes sense to reduce humans’ impact on the climate.
“There are uncertainties. It’s not like you
change your light bulbs today, you’re going to have better weather tomorrow,” he said. “It’s even better if those actions you’re taking make sense for other reasons, like getting off Middle Eastern oil or saving money.”
This also makes sense. I’ve switched over to compact fluorescent bulbs in most cases in my house. It was motivated by primarily by two factors.
- Saving money.1
- Changing light bulbs less frequently.
Encouraging policies that make economic sense, but that people might be unaware of makes sense on economic grounds alone, if there is a possible environmental benefit then that is merely icing on the cake.
1Keep in mind that I live in S. California, where the top tier for residential electricity rates is very high. So switching to compact fluorescent bulbs can have a large enough impact on one’s bill to more than pay for themselves.