Monday, June 25, 2007

The “Father of Climatology” calls Global Warming Hooey

The UW-Madison professor emeritus, who stands against the scientific consensus on this issue, is referred to as a global warming skeptic. But he is not skeptical that global warming exists, he is just doubtful that humans are the cause of it. Reid Bryson, known as the father of scientific climatology, considers global warming a bunch of hooey.

Bryson contends that there is no question that the earth has been warming. It is coming out of the "Little Ice Age," he said in an interview this week.

"However, there is no credible evidence that it is due to mankind and carbon dioxide. We've been coming out of a Little Ice Age for 300 years. We have not been making very much carbon dioxide for 300 years. It's been warming up for a long time," Bryson said.

The Little Ice Age was driven by volcanic activity. That settled down so it is getting warmer, he said.

Humans are polluting the air and adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but the effect is tiny, Bryson said.

"It's like there is an elephant charging in and you worry about the fact that there is a fly sitting on its head. It's just a total misplacement of emphasis," he said. "It really isn't science because there's no really good scientific evidence."

Even at UW Madison, some of his colleagues disagree. Galen McKinley, an assistant professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at UW-Madison disagrees with Bryson, whom she notes is a respected researcher and professor with a long history at the university.

"There are innumerable studies that show that the shoe fits for global warming, I guess you could say, and the human causation for it," McKinley said.

Reid Bryson was the founding chairman of the department of meteorology at UW-Madison and of the Institute for Environmental Studies, now known as the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He retired in 1985, but has gone into the office almost every day since. He does it without pay.

Professor Bryson contends that reporters will often call the meteorology building seeking the opinion of a scientist and some beginning graduate student will pick up the phone and say he or she is a meteorologist, Bryson said. "And that goes in the paper as 'scientists say.'"

The word of this young graduate student then trumps the views of someone like Bryson, who has been working in the field for more than 50 years, he said. "It is sort of a smear."

Bryson said he recently wrote something on the subject and two graduate students told him he was wrong, citing research done by one of their professors. That professor, Bryson noted, is probably the student of one of his students.

"Well, that professor happened to be wrong," he said.

"There is very little truth to what is being said and an awful lot of religion. It's almost a religion. Where you have to believe in anthropogenic (or man-made) global warming or else you are nuts."

While Bryson doesn't think that global warming is man-made, he said there is some evidence of an effect from mankind, but not an effect of carbon dioxide.

For example, in Wisconsin in the last 100 years the biggest heating has been around Madison, Milwaukee and in the Southeast, where the cities are. There was a slight change in the Green Bay area, he said.

The rest of the state shows no warming at all.

"The growth of cities makes it hotter, but that was true back in the 1930s, too," Bryson said. "Big cities were hotter than the surrounding countryside because you concentrate the traffic and you concentrate the home heating. And you modify the surface, you pave a lot of it."

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