The Physical Impossibility Of The Washington Times' Universe

Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

The Washington Times is claiming that carbon emissions could be causing "global cooling" in contradiction of basic physics.

In an editorial Monday designed to ridicule Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) for convening a summit on clean energy in Las Vegas, the Times repeatedly referred to climate change as a "scam" and cited several "facts" that allegedly discredit it -- including that "there's new evidence that carbon-dioxide emissions, which first set off global-warming hysteria, are actually triggering global cooling."

But there isn't "new evidence" of that. Or any kind of evidence, really.

As Duke University scientist William Chameides explained to Media Matters when Fox News tried to advance this "utter nonsense" claim, scientists established the greenhouse effect "more than a century ago":

What CO2 does is trap a larger amount of the heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping and thus driving up temperatures. To argue otherwise is to argue that the greenhouse effect does not exist. In fact the existence of the greenhouse effect was established by scientists more than a century ago. It would be impossible to explain the temperatures of Mars and Venus, as well as the Earth, without invoking this effect.

The "greenhouse effect" is part of a complex process -- a "balancing act" -- that makes life on earth possible. However, mankind's use of fossil fuels has led to a surplus of these gases, which prevents more radiation than usual from escaping back into space, thus making the planet hotter. This is not the slightest bit controversial in the scientific community, and the reverse is a vanishingly remote belief even among the climate deniosphere. For instance, the chairman of the industry-funded George C. Marshall Institute, a physicist who has conducted no climate research but suggests we should be "clamoring for more" carbon dioxide, has said that "most people like me believe that industrial emissions will cause warming, but just much less than has been predicted by many computer models." Indeed, industrial emissions have already caused substantial warming, as seen in this chart from NASA:

This warming has triggered certain "feedback loops" that are expected to cause even greater warming.

The editorial attempted to back its claim by citing an article from Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that suggested a lull in solar activity would soon lead to a "little ice age." That report was promoted by conservative sites including the Drudge Report, echoing past efforts to blame the sun for climate change. However, experts have explained that any cooling caused by reduced solar activity would be overwhelmed by the effects of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
The Drudge Report, The Washington Times
Climate Depot, Watts Up With That?
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