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State Senate explores global warming viewpoints

A committee that is exploring state climate options earlier heard mainstream scientific viewpoints.
Sen. Doug Ericksen

Sen. Doug Ericksen

Temperatures are rising on Mars. Jupiter too. And on Triton, the largest of Neptune's 14 moons. And none of these solar system bodies has any sport utility vehicles driving around on their surfaces.

This is what climate change expert Jay Lehr, a physicist with the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, told the Washington Senate Environmental and Energy Committee Wednesday. His point: Rising temperatures on Mars, Jupiter and Triton show that global warming on Earth is not manmade.

Lehr was one of several climate scientists, with different views on climate change, who briefed the committee on Tuesday and Wednesday. The committee expects to continue discussing how to deal with climate change Thursday.

While allowing that the Earth's carbon dioxide content is rising, Lehr argued that the increase is not harming life on this planet. "I would say that the increase in carbon dioxide is 100 percent a blessing," he said.

Near the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — 250 years ago — atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were roughly 280 parts per million. Today, the density of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at about 390 ppm. The increase of CO2 in the air — and sea — is expected to significantly accelerate this century.

Lehr contended that atmospheric carbon dioxide could reach 500 ppm to 600 ppm with no ill effects. "There is no tipping point," he said, "because there is no additional absorption of warmth."

"I don't know why the state of Washington is considering any legislation to reduce greenhouse gases," Lehr continued. "...  because anyone with an ounce of sense can see that the state of Washington can't do anything to impact the global situation." Lehr contended that trimming carbon emissions would hurt the state economically.  "The most zealous environmentalists don't like the environment," he said. "They just don't like people."

A task force of legislators has wrestled with how Washington should deal with climate change and increasing carbon emissions. It has split along party lines on what to do. The Republicans want to explore expanding nuclear power and cutting back on legally targeted reductions in CO2 emissions, set by a 2008 state law. Democrats want to set carbon emissions limits and install a cap-and-trade program to reduce industry emissions as a way to meet the 2008 targets.

The vast majority of scientists accept that carbon emissions contribute to global warming, which has ecological ripple effects. One effect is the rising acidity levels in Northwest waters, which is harming oyster populations in Washington's Dabob and Willipa bays and in Oregon's Netarts Bay. The acidity causes shells to crumble faster than the oysters can regenerate them.

The problem has cut sharply into the most recent oyster harvests. Billions of oyster larvae have died. Scientists have pinpointed a drop in the water's pH level as the culprit. The acidification trend has two primary contributing factors: additional carbon dioxide in the air and nitrogen-laden nutrient outlfows that seep from cities, septic tanks and agriculture into the sea.

Recent studies have that this ocean acidification is accelerating as global warming gases build up in the atmosphere. The  economic component of this phenomenon is potentially devastating for Washington's economy. The state's shellfish industry, one of the largest in the world, brings in about $270 million annually and employs roughly 3,200 people, most in rural areas, where jobs are often hard to come by. 

The Senate Environmental and Energy Committee heard testimony from four University of Washington scientists Tuesday that contradicted Lehr's contentions. UW researchers supported the scientific concensus that rising CO2 emissions are contributing to global warming.

The Senate committee invited Lehr to testify. "One of the things this committee is trying to do is bring in all viewpoints," said committee chair Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. Ericksen defended inviting a scientist whose view stands outside the mainstream school of thought. "I find it odd that the media doesn't want a different point of view to be heard," he told Crosscut. "I'd love to see an article about whether the science he presented is accurate or not."


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Propoganda for more studies, research, analysis, tests and taxpayer dollars.

Add this to the stormwater and nuclear slush fund.

salmonjim

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 8:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Why hasn't respected climate scientist Michael Mann from Penn State been asked to testify?

He just won a major court battle toward his defamation suit against the National Review and its blogger.

When legislators and other government officials don't like what peer-reviewed science tells them, they attack the scientist:

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/michael-mann-climategate-court-victory

gaia

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:16 p.m. Inappropriate

Mann's suit was not dismissed. That was a "win" for Mann but, no he has not "won".

kieth

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:30 p.m. Inappropriate

I did not say Mann's suit was dismissed. Perhaps my writing was not clear. The judge determined that his complaint merits a trial.

I am elated that the judge helped it over the SLAPP hurdle. In these Anti-SLAPP states, that is a big win, actually, something to celebrate, indeed Most defamation claims never make it past that barrier. Mann's attorney can go to trial now. Not that the defendants WANT it to go to trial. Maybe they will settle. This could be precedent-setting if he goes to trial and prevails.

Bottom line: it sends a strong message to persons who attack respected scientists because they do not like the results of their peer-reviewed research. This has been a successful ploy used by global warming deniers everywhere, some of whom may actually serve on the WA State Senate.

gaia

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 10:50 a.m. Inappropriate

Global warming is not happening! And it's not man-made! And it's good for plants, so we should make more of it!

Aren't physicists require to take a unit of rhetoric in college?

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 11:30 a.m. Inappropriate

"One of the things this committee is trying to do is bring in all viewpoints,"

No you're not. You don't care about the science. You care about whether or not you'll be compelled to change anything. And you are so scared of changing the way we produce and consume energy, that you're stalling doing anything about it. It's a difficult change, and you don't want to do difficult. Especially right now when we're the awesomest economy in the world and we're all holding smart phones and driving big cushy SUVs. Who needs change? Everything's fine.

Analogy - You went to the doctor, and she told you to get off the couch and stop eating fatty food. Then you went to another, and he told you the same. And another and another. And then you finally found one that told you, "meh... eat all the pizza and burgers and cupcakes you want and watch movies on your couch all weekend - no problem!"

Then you said, "I was just trying to get every viewpoint."

Uh-huh. Right. Keep telling yourself that.

nullbull

Posted Sat, Feb 1, 10:32 a.m. Inappropriate

An analogy I think about is the house on fire-- waking up in the night, you smell something burning, see a little smoke puffing in under the door. The kids are sleeping in the other room but you refuse to acknowledge what's happening, let the wife sleep and you want to wish it away instead of getting up and doing what you know you should. Rather than climb out on the roof and yell for help in the cold night-- what a fool you'd be to be wrong-- you ignore the evidence, deny what is actually happening, deny what is going to happen, and then you try to force yourself to go back to sleep. But what's that roaring sound outside the door now?

Bentler

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 11:44 a.m. Inappropriate

It's not just about CO2, it's about the failed policies that are justified by politicians citing increased CO2 as an excuse to increase taxes, government control, and reduced personal freedoms.

Such policies include: raising USA cost of manufacturing so the jobs move to China;

"Putting more than 2% ethanol in the fuel supply raises Seattle's ground level ozone above EPA attainment levels" -- according to a Dept of Ecology official 2008 quote to me)

Putting as much as 10% ethanol into the fuel supply that has been proven to damage / destroy many of America's $1.5 trillion of open-cycle engines, and to damage half the cars tested by the US auto industry.

Forcing 40 million acres of marginal farmland into production to produce biofuel feedstock, thus raising the demand for irrigation, fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide, some of which goes back into the aquifers and down the tributaries to the ocean dead zones.

Encouraging wind turbines that produce inconsistent and heavily ratepayer subsidized power, some of which is 'sent to ground' because it isn't needed. Meanwhile each turbine requires about 500 pounds of rare earth elements monopolized by China that cause massive radioactive thorium discharge to the Pacific food chain.

For the author...it's actually called the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee. It's members are:(9)Ericksen, Chair (R); Sheldon, Vice Chair (D); *McCoy; Billig; Brown; Chase; Honeyford; Litzow; Ranker.

Why doesn't Crosscut provide details as to who attended?

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 11:44 a.m. Inappropriate

It's not just about CO2, it's about the failed policies that are justified by politicians citing increased CO2 as an excuse to increase taxes, government control, and reduced personal freedoms.

Such policies include: raising USA cost of manufacturing so the jobs move to China;

"Putting more than 2% ethanol in the fuel supply raises Seattle's ground level ozone above EPA attainment levels" -- according to a Dept of Ecology official 2008 quote to me)

Putting as much as 10% ethanol into the fuel supply that has been proven to damage / destroy many of America's $1.5 trillion of open-cycle engines, and to damage half the cars tested by the US auto industry.

Forcing 40 million acres of marginal farmland into production to produce biofuel feedstock, thus raising the demand for irrigation, fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide, some of which goes back into the aquifers and down the tributaries to the ocean dead zones.

Encouraging wind turbines that produce inconsistent and heavily ratepayer subsidized power, some of which is 'sent to ground' because it isn't needed. Meanwhile each turbine requires about 500 pounds of rare earth elements monopolized by China that cause massive radioactive thorium discharge to the Pacific food chain.

For the author...it's actually called the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee. It's members are:(9)Ericksen, Chair (R); Sheldon, Vice Chair (D); *McCoy; Billig; Brown; Chase; Honeyford; Litzow; Ranker.

Why doesn't Crosscut provide details as to who attended?

Posted Thu, Jan 30, 1:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Why in the WORLD are we letting this unaccredited, loony, bought-and-paid-for industry hack to address the nice old men who make our laws? We should be more protective of our well-intentioned but easily confused congresspeople than to directly expose them to this level of idiocy and corruption.

Posted Sat, Feb 1, 7:21 a.m. Inappropriate

It's totally inappropriate to have propagandists present to lawmakers. As page 2 of this article points out,

"Founded in 1984, the Heartland Institute is a free market-oriented think tank that receives a significant amount of its donations from oil companies. In the 1990s, it teamed with a tobacco company in an effiort to prove that secondhand smoke is not a health hazard. Today, the Institute is a leading skeptic about global warming."

Policy makers have GOT to stop smoking opium on this MAJOR threat to our well-being-- climate change and ocean acidification-- and put their shoulders to the wheel to solve the problem starting NOW. Don't be cowards, for our kids' sake.

Bentler

Posted Mon, Feb 3, 9:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Mr. Stang,

Thank you for your coverage of Dr. Lehr's testimony. A correction however, to your comment about ocean acidification. pH values have only dropped about .1 unit since the Industrial revolution, according to NOAA. But pH values in ocean bays and estuaries can fluctuate by more than 1 or 2 pH points due to daily cycles in photosynthesis and water current movements. Furthermore, there is likely ocean upwelling off the coast that brings cold, dense and much lower pH waters to the surface that are far lower than the "normal" pH values out in the open ocean. So it's unfair and incorrect to automatically attribute ocean acidification to rising CO2 emissions.

Taylor Smith
The Heartland Institute
tsmith@heartland.org

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 11:33 a.m. Inappropriate

"it's unfair and incorrect to automatically attribute ocean acidification to rising CO2 emissions." The most polite description for this claim is horse manure. The absorption of CO2 by the oceans (and thus its decrease in average pH--not just where there is upwelling to concentrate it) due to the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is thoroughly documented in the scientific literature.

louploup

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 6:22 a.m. Inappropriate

Here's a smart opinion piece just out in the Everett Herald that mentions State Senator Ericksen:

"It’s time to tackle climate change with carbon at tax" at http://goo.gl/UBW61u, by Bob Hallahan, a retired Navy Commander with an MA in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

In it he refers to Washington's CLEW:
"It’s senseless that we have an effective, market-based solution to two gigantic problems but aren’t implementing it. The state’s Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup (CLEW) failed to agree last month on recommendations to meet our state’s already-too-tepid pollution limit targets. CLEW members Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42nd district) and Rep. Shelly Short (R-7th district) seemed to object to the very goal of state emission targets, writing that meeting them “would do nothing to mitigate global climate variability.” This shockingly inaccurate statement demonstrates zero acknowledgement of our ability to make a difference through leadership in reducing climate change and ocean acidification. It abrogates a responsibility to leave the world at least as habitable as we found it, and as such, constitutes legislative malpractice. Our state is an international leader in technology and innovation. A carbon tax would make us an international leader in smart, ethical government policies as well."

Bentler

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