WORDS on WEATHER & CLIMATE — December 9, 2010

‘Consistent With’

by CRAIG JAMES

Meteorologist Craig James, new Squire columnist

One of the things that marks a good scientific theory is whether or not it can make accurate predictions. That is one of the problems I have with the human-induced global-warming theory. Most of the predictions based upon the theory have turned out to be wrong, or in many cases they are so general and contradictory that no matter what happens it is said to be “consistent with” global warming.

Early last year a study at the University of California, Berkley, reported that due to global warming, “California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years, potentially endangering coast redwood trees dependent on cool, humid summers.” However, later in the year the National Weather Service reported that the San Francisco Bay area had just recorded its foggiest summer in 50 years.

Shortly thereafter, another study, this time from San Jose State in California, reported that “thanks to global warming, it’s about to get even foggier” along the California coast.

So I guess more fog is consistent with predictions of climate change and less fog is consistent with predictions of climate change. I wonder if the same amount of fog would also be “consistent with” climate change? Probably so. After all, we are told that warm temperatures, cold temperatures, droughts, floods, more storms, fewer storms, more snow, less snow, etc., are all “consistent with” global warming. I guess you don’t have to be the White Queen from Alice in Wonderland to believe six impossible things before breakfast. But I digress.

It turns out that the same scientist who published the fog decline story received a $2.5 million grant for a new study on the health of the California redwoods. The proposal was to “chart the health of the trees over time and use laboratory analysis of carbon and oxygen isotopes to figure out how the trees have reacted in the past to climate and weather conditions.”

It was thought that laboratory testing of the redwood tree rings would indicate what negative effects on growth were produced by the changing climate, which of course he believed was caused by humans.

His conclusion is not surprising to me but it apparently was to him. “Redwood studies thus far have come up with some confounding results. Redwood trees are known to thrive on summer fog, and it was believed that they grew more slowly as they aged, but our studies show redwood growth increasing, in some cases doubling, over the past century.” He finally speculated that maybe it was because of more CO2 in the atmosphere.

No kidding! Global-warming skeptics have been saying for years that CO2 is plant food. Why do greenhouse operators pump additional CO2 into their greenhouses? Because it makes the plants grow better. Here is a table showing the growth response to a number of plants when an additional 300 ppm of CO2 was added to their environment (almost a doubling of the current atmospheric amount).

A study published by NASA back in 2008 reported that they were “surprised” to find that “over a period of almost two decades, the Earth as a whole became more bountiful by a whopping 6.2%. About 25% of the Earth’s vegetated landmass—almost 110 million square kilometers—enjoyed significant increases in plant production.”

Last year there was a statement signed by 32,000 scientists—and given no mention in the mainstream media—proclaiming, “Higher CO2 enables plants to grow faster and larger and to live in drier climates. Plants provide food for animals, which are thereby also enhanced. The extent and diversity of plant and animal life have both increased substantially during the past half-century.”

Skeptics have been predicting for years such an increase in vegetation because warmer temperatures and increased CO2 levels are good for life. Now that is a forecast “consistent with” the facts.

Craig James has been retired since July 1, 2008, after 40 years of broadcasting television weather. He was chief meteorologist at WZZM-TV for 12 years and chief meteorologist at WOOD-TV for 24 years. He is a graduate of Penn State University, where he received a Centennial Fellowship Award. He was also honored as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

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