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Global Warming Is Misunderstood

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I'm an out-of-town visitor to your fine city. I've always enjoyed Richmond's historic sites, especially Monument Avenue, and your city's uniquely Southern nightlife. However, I was more than a little dismayed to read Peter Galuszka's deeply prejudiced article on Massey Energy (“Massey's Dark Side,” Cover Story, May 13).

Now I don't know much about Massey Energy, but I know a great deal about science and the physics of global warming or climate change or whatever the political-science spin doctors are calling it this week. Let me ask a common-sense question with the help from a little elementary school earth science:

What is more likely to drive global warming or climate change: 1) small variations in our sun, which provides 100 percent of our planet's energy budget, or 2) large variations in carbon dioxide, an infinitesimally small trace gas in our atmosphere essential to photosynthesis? Many might say the debate is over now that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has covered all the relevant science. I would then ask, Have you read the IPCC technical reports? I would be very surprised to find anyone how has read any of them in-depth.

What readers will find are a number of interesting facts and obvious omissions, one of which is a clear statement that the IPCC does not begin to understand all of the factors affecting our climate, including solar dynamics and cloud cover. The IPCC notes that the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide is insignificant compared with many other atmospheric trace gases, including water vapor.

Some facts they don't publish are: 1) Doubling carbon dioxide concentrations increases plant growth by 33 percent, good news for farmers and foresters, 2) warming stimulates plant growth and on balance is good for the economy and society, and 3) humans are only responsible for 3 percent of all carbon dioxide escaping into the atmosphere. Therefore carbon cap-and-trade fees and carbon-offset taxes would have to be enormous and draconian to have any significant impact on the planet's carbon dioxide.

When all is said and done, the underlying reality is that nothing has done more to make our planet green over the past several decades than moderate sun-driven warming together with elevated levels of carbon dioxide, regardless of the source.

The most disturbing question is: Why is our government spending so much national treasure to convince us that 1) warming is bad when it is not, 2) carbon dioxide is largely responsible for warming when it is not, and 3) people are largely responsible for carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere when they are not?
John A. Jauregui
Garden Valley, Idaho

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